It was only a matter of time. With the abundance of life trackers and activity monitors coming to market on an increasingly regular basis, how could we ignore the health of those most important to us – namely, our dogs? Answer: we couldn't. Enter Whistle, the activity tracker for the discerning canine.
To be fair, it's a basic, unsettling question that many dog owners grapple with: "Is my dog getting enough exercise?" These particular animals tend to sleep quite a bit, as the saying goes, and knowing whether or not your canine is depressed, bored, or merely sleeping like a dog can be tricky business.
The Whistle device itself is a shallow metallic cylinder, roughly the size of a stack of four half-dollar coins. It has a single button on its side, which turns it on and off, and an LED ring around the perimeter that lights up when it's establishing a connection. Inside is an accelerometer, which records your dog's movements, as well as a battery that you'll need to recharge every five days or so (using the included USB charger, you can recharge it completely in about an hour). A small plastic housing lets you easily and securely attach it to your dog's collar; simply slide it out for charging when necessary. It's waterproof and, well, dog-proof, and was able to withstand any wrestling match we put it through.
Setting up the device is as simple as downloading the free Whistle iOS or Android app and linking it to your phone via Bluetooth (iOS is available now; Android will be available early next year). After linking it to your phone, which took us about five minutes, you then connect it to your home WiFi network. This duality allows you to track your dog's activity even while you're out; when there's no connection available, it stores the activity data until one is.
Whistle records your dog's walks, playtime, and general "activity," and does so in a way that's easy to become engrossed in. Your dog's daily action shows up in the app in the form of a graph, with special "events," such as walks and play sessions, becoming central data points. The app shows you how much exercise the pooch got, when he or she got it, and lets you set goals each day. Seeing this data get compiled over a week or a month is even better, and the ability to compare it with data from other dogs of similar age and breed is particularly useful.
The longer-terms plan Whistle Labs has for its gadget is even more compelling. The company plans to aggregate data from all of the dogs wearing Whistles and is working with vet schools and drug companies to, among other things, figure out if the device can measure how dogs react to various medications. According to the company, it may even be able to detect the onset of seizures.
But these are future promises. As it stands, Whistle is fairly bare-bones; it doesn't show you the difference between an ambling walk on flat ground or a fast hike up the side of a mountain. And yet the data it collects is still extremely compelling; the simple ability to see even the basics of how much exercise your dog is getting is invaluable, helped along by the low price of entry, long battery life, and solid build quality. When you realize your dog hasn't gotten enough run time on a particular day, you're simply more likely to push for a longer night walk. [Preorder, $99; whistle.com]