With canine obesity on the rise, and the increase in health-related problems that accompanies those extra pounds, one company has created a gadget you can fasten to Fido or Fifi that helps you boost your four-legged friend’s fitness level.
San Francisco-based company Whistle has made a small, discreet device that will collect information about all of your pet’s physical activity — everything from sleep to walks to times of intense exercise.
“Whistle was inspired by my love of dogs,” CEO and Whistle co-founder Ben Jacobs tells RawStory.com. “We’re introducing a window into their lives; creating a way for owners and veterinarians to take a preventative approach to our pets’ health.”
At $99.95, the Whistle device is comparable in price to its human equivalent, the Fitbit One, and it works a lot like one, too. Just clip the small wireless sensor to your dog’s collar, sync the device to your smartphone and voilà — the device will track Fido’s patterns of activity and rest throughout the day while you sit back and view the data.
“A dog’s number-one indicator of health is their activity relative to their baseline,” says Jacobs. “You can alert dog owners to changes in behavior much earlier, and getting vet treatment early can save lives and money.”
According to PCMag.com, the Whistle device is composed of a solid, completely waterproof metal disc over a ring of LED indicators and plastic base. The sensor is light but sturdy, and fits into a special collar strap while in use. You won’t have to worry about carting out cumbersome cables to charge the Whistle, either — the device comes with its own charging dock that connects to small contact points on the base of the sensor.
Jacobs explains the overall goal is to extend your dog’s life, and he is happy the Whistle can be a major part of improving the health and wellbeing of dogs everywhere.
“While you might be taking your dog for a walk, his ambient activity when you are away is decreasing,” Jacobs tells ABC News. “That slight decrease could indicate a health issue depending on the dog.”
The company is also collaborating with their advisory council of veterinarians to develop an interface in which vets can log in and view their furry patients’ data.
“You see this desire to take good care of our pets, but no information,” Jacobs explains. “We talked to veterinarians and found out there is no way to get that information other than to build the hardware.”
While there are already products on the market with fitness-tracking capabilities, such as the GPS-enabled Snaptracs Tagg Pet Tracker, Jacobs says the Whistle has features that set it worlds apart from the competition. The products already in play primarily measure activity by counting steps or points, but Whistle uses movement-sensing accelerometers to gather information, then contextualizes the data it collects using up-to-date veterinary research to distinguish between owner-driven playtime and self-initiated exercise.
“Their core interest [Snaptracs] is the location feature and the carrier tracking so you don’t lose your pet,” Jacobs explains. “They are providing an important utility, but the core differentiating factor for us is that science. The most important thing to do is provide a comparative database with veterinary backing — that’s what we bring to the table.”
Sure this Whistle model is just for dogs, but cat lovers, don’t fret — Jacobs tells BusinessWeek a feline model of the Whistle device is in the works, and will likely be released sometime in 2014. Also coming down the pipeline is a product that will monitor your pet’s eating habits.