Culp notes that she would use the collar as a way to narrow in on how much exercise an animal is getting. “If [Tiki] came in and was 10 pounds overweight, I’d say ‘You’re doing X number of steps now, let’s try increasing that by a thousand steps a week, along with diet and any medications he would need. ’” She explained.
That’s not a huge issue, but it does mean that you have to give up an outlet somewhere in your house — and if you’re the type of person who’s likely going to buy a smart dog collar, I’d wager that you’ll have quite a few other things that need to be plugged in on a regular basis.
Fi also says that they’ve only had two reported instances of defective buckles, noting that it’s a type widely used by companies like Petco, and that some early versions of the collar used a defective glue that held on the nameplate — a minor cosmetic issue that’s since been fixed.
It’s designed as a tool to surveil someone you’re presumably trusting to take care of your animal — not an unreasonable impulse, but it’s one that strays a little too much into potentially creepy-ish behavior, especially given that the app collects a considerable amount of personal information in the form of location data.
But in that time, I can’t entirely figure out if it’s really a device that I need in my life, and Fi’s approach to smart dog collars doesn’t make it easy.
It’s hard to tell exactly where the collar was last, and I can’t really figure out how it’s choosing to display what information for me at any given point in time.
It also depends on the health of each individual dog, she says. “If we’re talking about a dog that’s 14 years old and has horrible arthritis, maybe the rule is 5,000 steps a day, or they get sore, painful, and uncomfortable. ” She also points out that Tiki and Elsa’s steps will differ greatly: “a smaller dog is going to have to take more steps.
But while functioning as a pedometer is probably the most useful component of Fi’s collars, they have another purpose: location tracking, and that’s where the collar really gets complicated.
Just as Apple warns its users that its Apple Watch heart monitoring features can’t be used to diagnose a serious problem, Fi’s collar is in the same boat, and should be seen as a supplemental device.
First up, the Fi collar functions as a basic pedometer, allowing you to track your dog’s steps via a mobile app, much like you would do with a Fitbit or similar device.
Ultimately, the device feels as though there are a lot of really clever ideas, but it’s not quite polished enough for me to seriously pick up one of these, as opposed to just buying a regular dog collar.
Culp says that Fi’s collar and others could be an extremely useful tool if used correctly as owners include their pets in their daily exercise and activity. “We could all be happy, healthy, and active together.
Maybe it’s because I’m really used to using something like my phone’s GPS system, but I was hoping that the device would deliver a more accurate location when I wanted it.
But this particular incident underscored a problem with the gadget: not only had it come off on its own (only one of the collars that I tested had this happen — another didn’t have this issue), but it shook my faith that the information that I was getting from the collar itself was accurate.
The company says that it uses a low-power LTE signal because it allows them to preserve the battery life, and that you should be able to get three to four months out of a single charge, provided you aren’t toggling the “lost dog mode,” which prompts the system to ping its location a bit more frequently, and thus uses more power.
Fi says that it’s being proactive in ensuring that information is safeguarded, that it’s encrypting data between phone and server, and that the company’s CTO, Loren Kirkby, came from Nest.
I think medically, there’s not strict step recommendations — it’s based on the animal and how many steps they’re taking, and maybe that will change.