Anyone who’s been through the agony of losing a pet to a disease that, had it been diagnosed sooner, might have been treatable, may want to take a close look at Whistle.
The Potrero Hill-based startup just launched in June its flagship product–smart technology dedicated to helping owners of dogs (a version for cats will be available in the future) monitor the indicators of their pet’s health remotely.
The wireless iOS monitoring device is small, sleek and resembles an ID tag. It attached directly to the dog’s collar, and using powerful motion detection technology can tell you whether your dog is walking, running, playing or resting.
The company has built out a database that helps provide owners (and vets) with recommendations based on the dog’s breed, age, size, and the individual baseline of that particular dog’s previous behavior patterns.
“The type of motion sensor we use is very sensitive; it records hundreds of motions in three dimensions per second,” says Whistle co-founder and CEO Ben Jacobs. “Our algorithms translate that data into recommendations for owners and veterinarians. The vets in particular really love this, because they have never been able to have data from real-world monitoring outside of the lab before.”
Already, during beta testing and early adoption of the device, which sells for $99.95, some vets are using it to monitor a dog’s recovery remotely after surgery.
Pets represent big business in the U.S., as the population of dogs, at around 80 million, is larger than that of kids. (There are about 70 million cats as well.)
One of the problems Whistle sets out to solve is that age-old problem of “my dog can’t talk.” Whistle does some of the dog's talking for you.
“Dogs are happiest when they are active and social,” says Jacobs. “They love being around their families and other dogs.”
Whistle’s technology can recognize when the dog is happy by interpreting all of those sensitive sensory data points. An interesting insight here is the technology fingerprint when a dog is playing with another dog or with a child is almost identical. To establish which is the case, Whistle relies on location data and other inputs to differentiate.
The product also charts a dog’s changing habits over time.
“We catalogue their activity from puppy to adult to senior, as the activity levels change and they should change,” notes Jacobs. “We generate population-level data and individual dog data. That way, you can see how your dog fits into the context of his age, breed, and size.”
Other external features of Whistle include that it is of rugged construction. It's waterproof, has an extended battery life of about ten days, and you can engrave it with the dog’s name and your phone number.
Jacobs says the solution for cats may be different than for dogs, since many cats don't like to wear collars and become proficient at shedding them.