What's New in Pet Tech?
The past few years have seen a radical increase in pet technology, and while some of it may be viewed as silly or unnecessary, the vast majority of these new products offer valuable services for both dogs, and dog owners alike.
The main categories of pet technology products are as follows:
- Video monitoring
- Health monitoring
Many of the new and exciting products in dog technology fall into multiple categories, so instead of going down the list, we’re going to highlight some of the most innovative and useful products that are hitting the market.
GPS Tracking Wearables for Dogs
The market for GPS devices that track dogs has expanded in recent years and the competition has bred further innovation. Despite the advances in this technology, the market is still figuring out exactly what consumers need, and what they’re willing to pay for it.
KYON Smart Collar
The KYON smart collar is a do-it-all product stuffed with features and has a price tag to match. The collar includes a heat sensor to prevent heat stroke, a water sensor in case your dog can’t swim, a 9-axis accelerometer to measure your dog’s activity, and a function that sends ultrasonic sound waves that only dogs can hear. In addition, it includes an altimeter and an LED display which is programmed to let strangers know your dog is lost, or to let you know what the device thinks is going on in your dog’s brain.
This collar may seem like overkill, and perhaps it is, but it’s also a pretty incredible product given the multiple ways it could save your dog’s life.
The KYON is not yet commercially available, but you can pre-order it here.
The LINK AKC is similar in many ways to the KYON, just a little less souped-up. Here’s how it compares:
- 3-axis accelerometer, compared to KYON at 9-axis
- 3-day battery life compared to KYON at 30 days
- A patent-pending algorithm that learns your dog's more intense activities to measure daily exercise.
- Provides activity level recommendations based on your dog's age, breed or mixed breed, behavior, and size.
- Temperature alerts to let you know if your dog is too hot or too cold.
One aspect of the LINK AKC that differentiates it from the KYON is a “virtual scrapbook” which shows a map of where you went and how far you walked. Calling that a “virtual scrapbook” may be a bit of a stretch, but it’s not a bad touch.
Another feature of the LINK AKC is that it can be used as a training tool, as the collar has a unique sound when it’s turned on.
The LINK is not quite as high-tech as the KYON, lacking the LED display that may or may not be of use to you. The LINK AKC is probably a better value at $99 but has a monthly service plan of $6.95 per month if you sign up for two years, $7.95 per month on the annual plan, and up to $9.95 if you go by the month. The value of the LINK suddenly disappears over the long term when compared to a $4.99 advertised monthly cellular fee for the KYON.
Smart Collar Bottom Line:
When it comes to smart, GPS-enabled trackers, the collars have innovative aspects, but overall it feels smarter to wait on a more fully fleshed product and service, rather than to be an early buyer in this market.
Whistle was the first GPS tracking device for dogs and works more like a simple step-tracker rather than a jack-of-all-trades like the LINK and KYON. Despite this, the Whistle still retails for $99 and has the same monthly subscription plan as the LINK AKC.
The Whistle 3 doesn’t do anything that the other two smarter trackers don’t do, and it requires a separate collar to attach. What you do get is the peace of mind that Whistle was first to market and should provide consistent updates in the future.
Whistle feels like an Apple product. It's sleek and easy to use, yet more expensive than its counterparts without quite as many features.
Findster is a tracking and fitness device for your dog that does not require a monthly subscription. It's base price, however, is right in the middle of the competition at $150 on Amazon.
Findster features a more robust social environment, with badges, leaderboards, and interconnectivity with others who have the app.
Another smart tracking device, FitBark ups the ante by monitoring your dog's quality of sleep, calories burned and includes an overall health and behavior index.
In addition, the new FitBark 2 has the best battery life we've seen yet at six months.
FitBark 2 was built in collaboration with over 45 vet schools and research institutions. FitBark claims that its overall health index guide can help you spot early signs of disease. With FitBark you’re also able to share its information with your vet to help with a diagnosis.
With the features offered on the FitBark 2 you’d expect a price tag towards the higher end, but the FitBark 2 is retailing for a reasonable $70.
Dog Tracker Bottom Line:
The FitBark 2 is a clear winner here. It’s the cheapest, and yet is still feature rich and does not require a monthly subscription fee.
Petrics is one of the more innovative companies when it comes to pet technology, and their goal is to design an ecosystem that you want your dog to be a part of. Just as people tend to stick to their ecosystem when it comes to their personal technology, Petrics is designing multiple products that will all work in conjunction on their phone app.
Smart Pet Bed
Petrics is claiming to have developed the world’s first smart pet bed, which features a built-in scale, climate control, and manages both your dog's health and comfort.
With a washable and replaceable cover, there’s not much that this bed can’t do. You can’t have it, however, until the middle of next year. Pricing is also not yet available.
Petrics Activity Tracker
As with the smart pet bed, Petrics impresses again with their activity tracker. Featuring a four-plus month battery life, it blows away the competition in this category. It's fully submersible, making it perfect for dogs who love the water.
Petrics Health and Nutrition Application
Using the app, owners can see advanced nutrition planning, tailored specifically to their dog based on information gathered from the Petrics products. It also provides food recommendations, medication reminders, and allows you to set vet appointments, straight from the app.
While you can’t buy the tracker or smart bed yet, you can download the app for free and build your dog’s profile for free nutritional recommendations. You can also link the app to a different brand of tracking device if you already own one.
Video Monitoring for Dogs
It only makes sense that there are multiple video monitoring devices for dogs currently on the market. Who doesn’t miss their dog when they’re away and wouldn’t want to check in and say hello?
At least some of these devices come with the ultimate trump card, a treat dispenser.
Furbo features both a camera and an integrated treat launcher that you can control from your phone.
Furbo also features an alert system that recognizes when your dog or a human is moving and can take pictures of your dog while you’re away.
Alexa integration also makes it easy to use Furbo while you’re at home. This can be fun for training and convenient for you if you don’t have treats on hand.
You can buy Furbo for $135 on Amazon.
PetCube is the main competitor to Furbo in the dog camera market. They offer two products, one with and one without a treat dispenser.
PetCube has the same features as Furbo, but the problem is that it’s currently priced too high. Furbo originally retailed for $250, but now at $135 they’re undercutting the PetCube without the treat dispenser, which sells for $149 at Amazon. If you want the treat dispenser, it'll cost you $179 at Amazon, also down from the original retail price of $250.
Dog Camera Bottom Line:
Both of these products are well-reviewed, and they share the same features. Furbo vs. PetCube should come down to personal preference for the style of the device.
Tech Toys for Dogs
The Furbo vs. PetCube debate could be settled by one of these next products, which combines both a camera and a ball.
PlayDate the Pet Camera Smart Ball
Similar to the previous video devices, PlayDate has two-way audio but also has remote control capabilities. So, whenever you want to check in on your dog, you can have a play-session remotely. It is not surprising that pre-orders for this device are sold out, but you can submit your email to be notified when the PlayDate is back in stock.
PupPod is a Kong Wobbler with “PupPod technology inside.” The technology devises games using sounds that coordinate with the wobbling ball. The ball connects to an app on your phone for you to play along, providing treats when prompted, with the games getting harder as your dog gets smarter.
The PupPod can also be paired with an individual treat dispenser that works with the Wobbler and doesn’t require your participation.
There are some dogs that like to play, and others that LOVE to play. Sometimes, the dogs that have an insatiable desire to play fetch can get a touch annoying. Enter automatic fetch toys.
Dog Tech that Makes You Go, Hmmm…?
The DogSpot by Dog operation can be seen in this YouTube video.
It’s designed to go on the sidewalk outside of a store to allow a person to walk their dogs, and then park them in the dog house while you go into the store. This sounds like a great concept, your dog gets to go on an activity he wouldn’t normally go on, and you get to do errands while simultaneously walking your dog.
The DogSpot is air conditioned, has 100% fresh air, and you can see a live feed of your dog from the phone app.
It’s an innovative and useful concept that should make life more convenient for dog-owners in the cities that have adopted it so far.
While this new technology does make me pause for a second, it’s a step in the right direction for giving dogs and their owners more time together.
Bottom Line on Pet Tech
We’re living a fast-paced world that is producing new technology at a rate not even the biggest nerds out there can keep up with. For dog owners who want the best for their pooches it’s both exciting, and overwhelming at the same time.
Is some of the new technology a bit ridiculous? Yeah, probably. But after you sift through the excess, what’s left are a variety of innovative products that will help dogs live longer and happier lives. I think we’ll all sign up for that, no matter how many, or how few of these innovations we adopt into our own lives.
Remember, human interaction is necessary to keep your pup healthy and happy. No matter what Pet Technology you use in your home, leaving your dog home alone for more than 4-6 hours a day could be damaging to their mental and physical health. If you have to leave your dog alone for long periods of time per day, hire a dog walker or ask a friend to spend some quality time with your dog during the day so they can stretch their legs and take a much needed bathroom break!