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2/9/2015
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Fitbit For Dogs: Readers Respond

Is an activity tracker for dogs a sign of an impending IoT tech bubble, a great idea, or both? Readers weighed in with a variety of opinions. What's yours?



Drones, Phones & More: What Tech Will Last A Century?
Drones, Phones & More: What Tech Will Last A Century?
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

InformationWeek readers sure do love their dogs (and cats). That message came through loud and clear in the howls I received after writing about a tech startup called Whistle that received $25 million in venture funding for its activity tracker for dogs.

Personally, I find the idea of a canine Fitbit ridiculous, but for some of you, a dog activity tracker makes a lot of sense. After all, we spend enormous sums on our domestic animals. According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent $55.7 billion on pets in 2013.

[ Is your best friend ready for FitBark? Read 7 Cool Wearables For Pets. ]

According to the Association, the largest outlay is for pet food, and more Americans are buying higher-quality food to help keep their pets healthy.

If pet health is a priority, maybe an activity tracker isn't such a stretch.

(Image: Public Domain Images via Pixabay.)

(Image: Public Domain Images via Pixabay.)

As one reader responded: "Whistle may seem to outsiders a stupid idea, but perhaps fitness tracking isn't the only thing it plans on doing. If it is going to track the overall health of a pet, I think a lot of people will pay for that."

Others saw a similarity between the activity tracker and the dot-com bust that rattled the tech industry in the early 2000s, when startups like Pets.com garnered millions in venture money yet still failed. Said one reader: "Reminds me of the days when Microsoft was notorious for throwing gobs of money at startups to keep them from growing to be threats -- this in the time preceding the dot-com bust."

Finally, this response from David Guzman, CIO at H.D. Smith, who contacted me via e-mail, makes a great point: It’s easy to roll your eyes at the strange ideas bubbling up from the cauldron of tech, but we shouldn't ignore what it means for the Internet of Things (IoT) in the long run.

"My view is that you can't throw out the baby with the bathwater," Guzman wrote. "I was at the Consumer Electronics Show, and while I see your point that some applications of the concept border on the ridiculous, it was clear to me that the trend is real and really will change life as we know it, hyperbolic as that sounds.

"While the dot.com bubble offers lessons, 15 years later, over 51% of all transactions during this past holiday season were online. So, bubble or not, spectacular failures or not, the transformation has taken hold.

"The Internet of Things will be akin to that, except on steroids. Almost everything you own or use, you will replace in the next decade. That augers well for the economy and will indeed transform life as we know it."

Guzman concluded: "Will some of it be stupid? Of course. But this train has left the station and is unstoppable."

Do you agree? Or are we wasting millions on silly ideas? Which IoT applications do you expect to change life as we know it? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.

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Drew is formerly editor of Network Computing and currently director of content and community for Interop. View Full Bio
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