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Whistle, a 'Fitbit for dogs,' acquires pet-tracking company Tagg

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The pet-fitness device adds GPS to its list of tricks

In the past few years, we've seen the emergence of two big ideas when it comes to pet tech: the ability to monitor your pet's fitness levels and the ability track lost pets. Now, those two ideas are merging. Whistle, a Fitbit-like gadget that charts a dog's physical activity, announced today it has acquired the GPS-enabled pet tracker Tagg.

The merging of the two companies is the first step towards giving pet owners all the information they need in a single app. "We've been really focused on providing solutions for pet owners and veterinarians," Ben Jacobs, CEO and co-founder of Whistle said in a phone call to The Verge. The company plans to build several "on-collar devices that track everything you want to know about your dog."

Jacobs said the main draw of the acquisition was Tagg's GPS-based tracking solution. Tagg pairs a dog collar with a companion app that allows users to monitor the exact movements of their pets. If your dog goes missing, Tagg's app will pinpoint him on a map. Tagg introduced its GPS Plus device at CES this year, which updated the product to include a temperature-monitoring device.

Whistle's current draw for pet owners is a big picture data set of an animal's overall health: it uses an accelerometer to try to determine if a dog is walking, sleeping, or running. Using Bluetooth for a mobile app and Wi-Fi for remote monitoring, Whistle charts changes in a dog's daily activity and alerts owners to sudden, potentially worrisome changes.

"We look at Jawbone, or Fitbit, it's the same idea here."

Tagg was founded in 2010 as a subsidiary of Qualcomm, but was independently owned at the time of purchase. It operates under a slightly different business model than Whistle's one-time fee. Because the Tagg collar uses a cell chip, users must also pay for a monthly data plan.

Current Tagg users won't be abandoned in the acquisition. "The key in the immediate term is we'll support any consumer using any device today." Jacobs said. "The goal is to bring [the companies] together into one single software platform. We look at Jawbone, or Fitbit, it's the same idea here."

Eventually, Whistle hopes to completely subsume the Tagg brand into its own. Tagg's web app will be integrated into the Whistle platform. Whistle plans to create a complete line of devices, each catering to the different needs of pet owners. For example, one device might only monitor a dog's sleeping patterns, while another might compare his activity to that of other breeds. Tagg's GPS component will only be available on certain devices with an additional monthly fee.

Whistle plans to create a line of different devices for pets

"Imagine a single refresh of the app," Jacobs says, "You're no longer using the Tagg app. You'll start using the Whistle experience and using that platform."

At CES this year, Tagg announced a partnership with Alarm.com, unveiling plans to alert home automation systems to pet activity. For example, when your dog goes outside, Alarm.com will shut off your home's air conditioning and turn it back on when the dog returns. Whistle's acquisition of Tagg is further proof that the tide of multi-functional gadgets into our daily lives isn't slowing anytime soon. For now, one thing is clear: the Internet of Things is coming for your pets.