Thursday, May 11, 2017

Dog Tech: The May Smartcollar Update

It's time to check in with our favorite up and coming smartcollar products! Technological development is a rocky road filled with bumps and setbacks, and it's a rare product that gets released on time. How a company handles those setbacks says a lot about the people behind the product. The world of pet wearables is always growing, it's exciting to see what might be on the horizon!
Dog GPS wearable trackers

Whistle 2 - currently using

Our Whistle 2 tracker has been in use for 4 months now, and at this point it needs to be rebooted and freshly paired with the base nearly every time I charge it. The tracker often stops working when we are away from home, and the only way to make it start working again is to go home and mess around with the base station. Tech support is happy to explain how to reset everything, but fails to recognize that the constant need to do so presents a problem.

I did have occasion to use it to track Zip once, and it did indeed help me find her. On previous occasions, it was either unable to get a location, or I found her during the 10 minutes it took to get her location.

Whistle 3 - released!

Whistle 3 shipped out in February as expected! This new version of the tracker is smaller, lighter, and sends notifications faster. The company is doing a nice job of keeping on top of the PR machine, they have responded to every negative review on Amazon. The biggest downside to Whistle 3 is that it somehow isn't compatible with all WiFi routers, and the company recommends users with this issue just buy a new router. Wtf, Whistle?

Link AKC - released!

Link AKC was released in March, and it's not bad. It's just very new, and I don't think they beta tested it enough. The tracking is superior to Whistle. I really liked the idea of temperature alerts, but it kept alerting when my dog was in comfortable temperatures and definitely not laying on the device. I also really wanted the virtual leash feature, but again got many false notifications. I ended up returning this one because the single day of battery life was worrisome, and the tracker was beginning to show some wear and tear after only a couple of days.

Nuzzle - wtf?

I originally ordered three Nuzzle collars, hoping to use them for my dogs and maybe even the sheep at work. Unfortunately I had to cancel due to seriously shady behavior on the part of the company. They abruptly stopped communicating, censored everything remotely negative about their product, and blocked a bunch of users who pointed out that taking everyone's money without sending them a product for months is technically illegal. They finally started shipping this week, which is great news for the people that ordered back in 2015. Unfortunately, it looks like the features you get don't exactly match the features advertised. Temperature monitoring may or may not work, battery life is measured in hours not days, and tracking and boundary alerts are highly inaccurate. They've had well over a year to beta test this thing, but it appears they spent all the money on marketing instead.

Pod 3 - May/June 2017

Pod 3's release has been pushing from March to May or June of this year. I really want one, but Nuzzle has completely destroyed my trust in tech companies offering preorders. On the plus side, they're selling Pod 3 as a preorder right now, not as a finished and prepared product that just kinda won't be shipped for a few months.

Kyon - June 2017

Kyon has pushed their release date back to June of 2017. They've added more color options. With 30 days of battery life, and temperature monitoring, the only thing scaring me about this one is the $250 pricetag. This is another company that is being honest with their customers and selling their product as a preorder.

Scollar - August 2017

Scollar is still on track for release later this summer. This is more of a daily reminder collar for pets that stay at home, but it's still cool. 

Wuf - Fall of 2017?

Wuf has pushed their tentative release date back to fall of 2017. It's ok though, their website even has a disclaimer warning preorder people that the release schedule could change as Wuf is a product still in development. Nuzzle was not sold to me or anyone else as a preorder, despite being at roughly the same level of development.

Findster Duo - July 2017

This is one that I just learned about, a GPS tracker that includes a piece for the pet guardian to wear. Findster doesn't need monthly fee because the guardian piece communicates with both your phone at the pet piece. You can buy extra guardian and pet pieces for all the places, people, and pets in your life. I'm very excited about this one, but not enough to preorder it. Thanks again, Nuzzle.

Buddy - officially dead

The Buddy smartcollar's IndieGoGo page is now handing out refunds like candy. The project is officially dead, and the collar will not be released. Like most smartcollar crowdfunding campaigns, the backers were told they were funding the production phase of a working product instead of the development of a hypothetical collar that existed only in the campaigners' dreams. This has been the story of pretty much every pet wearable crowdfunding campaign to date, which means basically everyone who claims to have invented a smartcollar is lying about something. Buddy, DogTelligent, and Nuzzle have left me quite cynical indeed.


  1. Thanks for the update Rachel. So interesting to note the online reviews for the Nuzzle collar seem to be either five stars or one star. Either the collar works perfectly, or you've paid almost $200.00 for a device that doesn't do what is promised, and isn't even good as a paperweight.

  2. The Link AKC is the way to go. You may have given up to early. I was one of the pre-orders, and I have now had it for a few months, and it just keep getting better. They have updated the app multiple times and recently did a firmware update that has improved Bluetooth connection which has helped the battery life. What did you have the temp set at? A dogs body temp is over 100 which is most likely why you were getting notifications. I have used the whistle, and Link AKC is the much better product and only getting better...remember this is their first version and whistle has already released three. If Link keeps going this way than they are going to blow everyone out of the water.

    1. I had the collar set to alert me if the temperature was over 90 degrees. It sent me a temperature notification when my dog and I were walking down a shaded path in 65-degree weather. It alerted again when we were riding in an air-conditioned car, when she had been sitting up and not laying on the tracker at all.

      The reason I returned the collar was because I did not believe the tracker would survive much longer than the two days Godzilla wore it. App updates won't improve the attachment point or find the tracker if it falls off in deep brush. Link was never made for working dogs running through the wilderness, and the company has.told me they have no intention of developing a more rugged or durable version.

    2. That is totally fine, but your review should mention that you have working dogs. This collar is great and as someone who has used whistle, the Link collar is by far the best collar on the market. Yes, they had some bugs early on, but it is improved. Also, as I stated a dogs body temperature is 102 so even in comfortable settings that means nothing. In my opinion it should be set at 100 to 105.

    3. I've written extensively about Link and how it is not intended for hard outdoor use, however my dog has been working with a Whistle 2 on her collar for 4.5 months now and it's holding up nicely.

      The outside temperature of my dog through a thick leather collar had better not be 102 degrees, especially when she's moving through a cool environment with lots of airflow. If I consistently got temperature alerts when she was wearing the Link during normal activity, I certainly would have changed the alerts. However, I never received an alert when she was sleeping on the tracker, laying in the sun, sitting with me inside a hot car, or any other time when it would have made plenty of sense to get an alert. It's the lack of consistent behavior that makes the device unreliable.

      Do you work for Link AKC?

    4. No, I don't. But that's to bad it didn't work for you. Was just trying to help. I almost gave up too, but I stuck with them and I am loving the collar. Just thought I'd let you know that things have improved. Sorry that doesn't help. I hope the Whistle continues to work for you.