One of the biggest hindrances to a veterinarian’s job is the fact that animals – particularly domesticated ones – act differently when they are alone than they do around people. For instance, an owner may notice that his pet is limping, but when it is brought to the vet, it walks normally as a result of all the adrenaline as well as the desire to show off.
A new startup company called Whistle aims to solve this problem via a new gadget, which attaches to the dog and tracks its activity. Roughly the size and shape of a small circular watch face, the Whistle device can be attached to a pet’s collar, where it can track the pet’s movements – whether it’s playing, walking, or sleeping – via an accelerometer.
The Whistle device currently sells for $99.95, and comes with a companion app and a free web service. The mobile app can use the mobile app via Bluetooth, and can also monitor it remotely via Wi-Fi. The device can also be used to measure daily activity as well as chart changes in exercise. The Whistle can alert the monitor if there is a problem, and the owner can then provide a detailed report to the vet.
Inspiration for Whistle
Whistle’s CEO and co-founder, Ben Jacobs, has been a dog owner his entire life, and has held positions in Rapleaf and Bain Capital before striking off on his own as an entrepreneur. His inspiration for Whistle was a German Shepherd that he once owned when he was young, which died from intestinal issues, which appeared out of the blue. Jacobs believes that they have missed early warning signs back then, the same micro-signals that Whistle is designed to catch.
Whistle has recently raised $6 million in funding via a round led by DCM Ventures. Whistle’s board will be joined by DCM Ventures general partner Jason Krikorian. He stated that there are currently more dogs than kids in the US these days, and that people tend to spend over $50 billion on pets every year, which means there is a huge potential in bringing a suite of smart products to said space.
There are a number of products that can be considered as competitors of Whistle on the market, but majority of said products only focus on the owner’s pet. Whistle has an advantage because it compares all of the stats it gathers with those from other dogs of the same size and breed, so that owners will have an idea if their pet is doing well compared to the rest of the pack.
Another problem that Whistle solves is the issue of dog obesity, which is a common problem in the US, as owners tend to pamper or spoil their pets too much without taking the necessary time to give their pets an exercise (either because they’re too busy or too lazy). With Whistle, all the data is right in front and the problem cannot be dismissed.