Huh. It’s just another gimmicky dog collar. Why should we give a toss?
You’re right to an extent, there isn’t one spectacularly revolutionary feature about WÜF – but at least on paper, its combination of features is particularly appealing. WÜF touts itself as the world’s smartest dog collar; the basic concept is that the app can keep track of all the activities that your dog gets up to and gives you the full picture of his or her lifestyle as well as habits. The idea is that the app can pinpoint the essential information and provide simple and attainable suggestions on how to bond with your pet.
Sounds way too much like snake oii...
Oh ye of little faith, the smart collar isn't just talk. What makes WÜF interesting is how they apply each feature. For starters, there’s a microphone built into the collar to listen to the dog’s bark, as well as external causes for the bark, so as to find patterns that help to establish the root of the bark.
The 48-channel GPS is not only for locating your dog, it’s to find out where it goes everyday and you can figure out if it’s territorial or not etc. The six-axis accelerometer measures activity and tracks how much calories they burn.
It also has the latest Bluetooth v4.1 module built in; when it’s not connected to your smartphone to share information and data collected, it can be used to connect to smart devices around the house to detect, say, if he’s going into a room that he shouldn’t be in. The possibilities are endless.
That actually doesn’t sound too bad. What other features does it have?
Believe it or not, it has a speaker built in as well, so you can talk to your dog anytime, anywhere, via GSM (pre-paid credits or subscription, purchased via WÜF account) – really useful for training, games, or just good ol’ fashioned conversation.
The collar also has a vibration motor that comes in very handy when you want to get the dog’s attention. The standout feature for the speaker-microphone combination is what they call an Invisible Leash; but you will need to train the dog for this first.
I have rather big, playful dogs. Will the collar stand up to abuse?
The core electronics and battery are fitted in a waterproof hard shell (up to one meter of water) for rigidity, while the case is made of materials similar to those found on the toughest dog toys. This setup also makes it fairly resistant to shock.
Furthermore, you can customise the case and strap to your taste (or your dog’s). At the moment there are two colours available, but more are set to arrive. The straps come in three sizes.
How long can the battery last?
According to the team, their current prototype lasts about five days.
What’s the catch? Do you like, have to pay a lot for a subscription or something?
Well not really, but not all the services are free as it uses a ‘freemium’ model. The only exception being that it requires a GSM service (to report on your dog’s location if its beyond bluetooth range) that follows a pre-paid model. Additional credits can be purchased and added via your personal WUF account profile. No details on how it will be charged here in Singapore though.
What else would be worth paying for, then?
At a glance, perhaps the activity tracker, the two-way audio, and the training lessons. The free app has a basic activity tracker that estimates how much you should feed your dog based on its activities for the day. A subscription gets you advanced analytics that gives you a detailed breakdown, such as by breed and comparing the numbers to other dogs of similar breeds, weights and ages.
The team also says that you will have the ability to connect directly to your veterinarian so that he or she can keep an eye on their activity and proactively alert you if there is a reason for concern. The cost is estimated to be US$2-6 per month.
The freemium version of the Two-Way Audio lets you record and play up to a set number of voice commands, be alerted when your dog is barking heavily or aggressively, and use a basic version of the Invisible Leash. The paid version unlocks all features and lets you use the full version of the Invisible Leash.
The app also includes a proprietary dog training method that takes just 10-20 minutes of your time daily – but you only get the first few chapters. You can choose to purchase additional training lessons a-la-carte or upgrade to unlimited access to all training programs. Individual lessons will likely cost US$0.99 while unlimited access will cost you about US$6-12 per month.
OK, where can I get this?
Check out the Kickstarter page here for more details. They’re going for US$99 right now instead of the expected retail price of US$149. WÜF is expecting to make their first shipment near the end of 2015.