The Fi Collar is what you get the dog that has everything – Stacey on IoT

I’ve spent the last few weeks testing out a smart dog collar called Fi, and found it more fun than necessary for my senior dog, but I could easily imagine paying for the collar and the $99 annual subscription fee. when she was young and likely to escape. The collar costs $149 and tracks steps, sleep and location. Location tracking relies on the $99 annual subscription if you want to track your dog outside of your home Wi-Fi network. According to Jonathan Bensamoun, CEO of Fi, 93% of people who buy the necklace also buy a subscription.

Basically, step tracking is a fun feature to keep consumers engaged. But the reason someone spends so much on a dog collar is because they love their dog and want to make sure they never get lost. As someone who has had an escape-prone dog for a long time and now lives in a rural area full of coyotes, this is a device I can see people wanting. And as far as location tracking goes, it works great.

My dog ​​with the Fi collar under his normal collar for size comparison. Image courtesy of S. Higginbotham.

The collar arrived as part of a bundle that also included a base station, which doubles as the collar’s Wi-Fi bridge and charging station. Right now, in the middle of winter, we’re getting around six days of battery life on one charge. The collar is thicker than a typical dog collar and is heavier; the small version weighs 92 grams while my dog’s “dumb” collar weighs only 31 grams (and that’s with its name tag and rabies tags).

Putting on the collar should be easy for most people. Simply plug in the base station and download the Fi app to your phone. From there, add the Fi Collar via Bluetooth, then connect the base station to your Wi-Fi network. From start to finish, it should take a minute. I had challenges, however. It might have been an Android thing with my new Pixel 6, but something about my home and phone Bluetooth environment prevented me from adding the collar to my Wi-Fi network. Once I replaced the Pixel 6 with another Android device, I was able to add the necklace in 30 seconds.

With the collar connected, I added information about my dog. Fi wanted her breed (mutt/sheltie), age (10.5), name (Sophie) and photo. This information is used for one of my guilty pleasures, a ranking of how she compares to other dogs of her breed. Today, Sophie is in the top 86% of all dogs in the app when it comes to the number of steps she takes. The app also shows sleep tracking, which is another fun metric that lets me see when my dog ​​is actually sleeping and when he’s walking around the house at night.

I think anyone who invests enough in their dog to buy this collar will also appreciate looking at their pup’s stats. You can even link your pet’s social media accounts and interact with other dogs through the Fi app if that’s your jam. But for most of us, we are interested in the tracking feature, so let’s discuss how it works.

When you add your dog’s collar and information, you’re also encouraged to draw a geofence around your house to indicate where your property ends. Fi uses this information to send alerts when your pet goes outside the geofence without your phone also being present. The alerts come pretty quickly, I get them about two minutes after my dog ​​leaves the geo-fenced area. The collar doesn’t always use GPS location tracking as it will drain the battery, so if you want to use GPS to track your pet, you need to go to the Live section of the app to engage it. Fi says the collar updates the location every two minutes, when he’s away from home, but if you mark your dog as lost, it will increase that location tracker to send coordinates every minutes. This may seem long if your dog is on the move, but it will give you a good idea of ​​where to look.

Following my dog ​​was easy because we live in a fairly suburban/rural area without a lot of tall buildings and densely populated houses. I’d love to see how it performs in a city, which can be a more difficult environment for GPS, but I couldn’t bring myself to force my dog ​​to Seattle for the test, and my friends who have a city dog ​​were stuck in quarantine while I was testing. (Note, my kid asked me after reading this why I didn’t just take the collar to Seattle to test it out, and I’m now embarrassed.) I’ll note that if your dog likes to hide on porches, the GPS data won’t be as accurate, but you should be able to find the general area he’s in. Fi says he’s following within 7 feet.

And because using GPS consumes battery power, be aware that the window to find your dog with a full battery will be around two days, according to a company spokesperson. Where I live we may have even less time given the dark roads and coyotes. But I see so many posters of lost dogs near my home, and like many pet owners, I’d probably pay anything to save my dog ​​from going missing if he was still as prone to escape as he was. he was in his youth. This collar would definitely help, although my success depends on her location, access to GPS signal, and enough battery life to give me time to find her.

Finally on the collar, the device itself is large enough to overwhelm a small dog. My pup is 21 lbs and tolerates the collar but doesn’t like it. Also, when I snap it around her neck, it makes a louder noise than her existing collar, so she flinches. We tend to take her collar off at night so she doesn’t wake us up with her tags tinkling, which means we don’t often get sleep tracking overnight, but we do manage to ensure a full charge for the necklace by placing it on the base each night.

The collar also has an LED on it which we like to use when we take it for a walk in the afternoon when it is dark (currently the sun sets here around 4:20 p.m.). You can also turn on the light remotely, so if your dog escapes, you can turn it on to help others see him after dark. I really like the angle of visibility and the use that most characterizes the time of year. At $149 plus $99 per year for tracking, the collar isn’t cheap, but many of us spend crazy amounts of money on dog-related accessories, so might as well spend on something that helps ensure the return. safely from your dog if he gets lost.

Elizabeth J. Harless