Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

A Fitbit for Fido: Whistle Will Help Track Your Dog’s Activity

Ever wish you could talk to your dog? Understand what’s bothering him? How much of the time she paces around when you’re not home?

Whistle, a startup that makes a wearable tracking device for dogs, wants to help. This summer, it plans to start shipping a $99.95 metal disc that affixes to a standard collar, and promises to go for 10 days on a single charge.

“It’ll fit any dog but a teacup Chihuahua,” said Whistle co-founder and CEO Ben Jacobs in a recent interview.

Owners can then chart their Whistle-wearing dogs’ daily minutes spent walking, playing and resting, as detected by an accelerometer and displayed on a free Whistle iPhone app.

Sure, you’ll be the crazy pet owner who bought your dog a piece of expensive electronic jewelry. There’s no escaping that. And pet products seem to be an all-too-familiar marker of Internet bubbles. But with Whistle, you might detect that your pup has a joint issue, based on declining activity, months before your regular vet appointment, or you might suspect diabetes, based on dips in rest in the middle of the night.

Or you just might like to check that you’re taking the dog out for exercise as often as you should be.

Jacobs, a former Bain consultant who worked on PetSmart’s retail strategy, said part of the inspiration for the company came from pulling stats that there are 80 million dogs in the U.S., compared to 72 million kids.

And yes, human fitness trackers like the Fitbit and FuelBand are basically glorified pedometers, but even a little bit of data about a pet could make a difference, Jacobs claimed. “Vets are like pediatricians where the patient can’t speak,” he said, adding that the University of Pennsylvania’s Veterinary Clinical Investigations Center plans to use Whistle in studies.

In fact, a dog tracker is even more relevant than a human tracker, Jacobs argued. “The human quantified self can be subsumed by the phone — but your dog is never going to have a smartphone.”

Based in San Francisco, Whistle has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by DCM Ventures.

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