Wearable technology is a fast-growing industry and one that seems to be expanding into the pet market with the development of the Whistle. This activity tracker attaches to a dog’s collar and connects wirelessly to an app on a smartphone, enabling owners to monitor health, set goals, log data and share information with their social network.

It is not uncommon for dog owners to treat their pet as a member of the family. They want to do the best they can to care for them and ensure they’re in premium health. This is exactly what Ben Jacobs wanted to do when he came up with his idea for a Jawbone or Fitbit-esque product for his dog. His vision was to create a device that could track his dog’s activity throughout the day so he co-founded a company called Whistle in San Francisco to enable him to do this.

“Many of us have no idea how to best take care of our companions through the different stages of their lives. Day-to-day needs of rest, activity, nutrition, and long-term trends in health and behaviour remain guesswork,” says Jacobs.

“I recognised there was this gap in understanding for owners. What I didn’t realise was veterinarians sought the same information. Before beginning work on what would become Whistle, we spent time with medical professionals at leading academic research institutions, veterinary organisations and independent hospitals.”

What they discovered was that pet owners couldn’t relay to the vet trends in their pet’s behaviour over recent months or years. So, with Whistle the goal was to have all this data stored and be readily available.

Jacobs and his team created different prototypes and tested those with pets and owners. However, they didn’t only want to create a platform that logs data but for the hardware device and software to be an engaging owner and pet experience. For instance, owners can set goals for their pets that they can visually track and also share information and photos with fellow pet owners via social media.

For the final product, the team at Whistle worked with industrial designers at San Francisco design firm NewDealDesign who helped with the product styling and achieving the right shape and size for the device.

The Whistle was so successful that pre-orders were taken before the product even went into manufacture. However, with the product now launched the Whistle team are currently thinking about how this wearable technology could develop in the future.

“As we continue to capture more data across various breeds, ages and weights, we will be able to provide users with insights into how their dogs compare to others for the first time. In addition to refining our current classifications, we also plan to extend our algorithms to classify different types of activities,” comments Jacobs.

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