Technology has enabled a new breed of dog collar that does more than just provide a handy place to attach a leash. The latest to catch our eye is Buddy from pet-tech company Squeaker, which includes some of the features found in similar devices like Whistle, Tagg and Geodog, but packs in a few more designed to help keep your pooch safe and healthy.
Like the aforementioned collars, Buddy features inbuilt GPS to keep tabs on Fido throughout the day. This allows users to set up a geofence so pet owners can be alerted via a companion smartphone app or SMS if their dog wanders beyond predefined boundaries. This feature will require a SIM card to function, with Squaker saying it is currently looking to secure deals with telecommunications companies around the world for the service – however, the collar will be unlocked so compatible with any provider.
The companion app, available for iOS (including Apple Watch) and Android, will also automatically activate a previous geofence if you return to a location, such as a favorite dog park, and will provide step-by-step instructions to reunite an owner with their pet if it wanders outside the boundary.
Movement tracked via a 3-axis accelerometer can also be monitored from an activity standpoint, so owners can see how much their pooch moves around during the day and better determine how long a walk might be required to ensure they're getting sufficient exercise. Activity is via metrics like movement, sleep, and calories burned. While your dog isn’t likely to care if they meet their step goal for the day, owners can use that data to determine if the dog’s diet or walk schedule needs to be altered.
Beyond tracking, the app can also be set up with important dates and appointments for your pooch. For instance, when you need to apply a new flea treatment or when you’ve scheduled a yearly vet checkup. There’s even a temperature sensor in the collar, so you can instantly get a notification if your dog is too hot or cold. If you have a Nest thermostat, you can then use that data to adjust the temperature in your home, all while you’re still at the office. It can also connect with other smart devices around the home, such as locks and lights.
The most eye-catching feature of Buddy is the LED lighting on the collar's edges that improves the visibility of your pet if they do happen to get out. Similar to Phillip’s Hue lights, the colors on the collar can be customized in an almost infinite number of combinations and flashing effects via the companion app. The collar also integrates a light sensor so the brightness can be set to change automatically based on the amount of ambient light.
While various settings and information are accessible via the companion app, information is also displayed on the OLED display built into the collar itself. Various readings can be cycled through by pressing the button next to the display.
But Buddy's creators haven't just focused on high-tech wizardry, with the device also featuring a good old fashioned D-Ring for attaching a leash. The collar is 1.2 in (3 cm) wide, will weigh an estimated 1.3 lb (600 g) and will come in small sizes: small (13 to 18 in/35 to 45 cm), medium (18 to 21.5 in/45 to 55 cm) and large (21.5 to 25.5 in/55 to 65 cm).
There's also an optional Wi-Fi charging dock available that, in addition to charging Buddy, can visually alert users when the collar has sent an alert or has left a geofenced area. The dock or a Micro USB cable will charge Buddy in around 1 hour, with a full charge lasting for seven to 14 days, depending on usage. The collar is also waterproof.
Squeaker is currently attempting to raise money for Buddy's production on Kickstarter. With the US$199 pledge tier already filled, the minimum pledge amount for Buddy, including the Wi-Fi charging dock, is $245. If all goes to plan, Squeaker plans to ship the device to backers from July 2016.
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