I recently heard of this startup, Whistle. They are after the data your dog generates with the intentions of mining insights by plotting trends based on the data left behind.

I’m yet to play around with the product, but I’m very much so familiar with the current “quantified self” craze, being that I am a participant myself and am supportive of the concept. So I wanted to talk about it because I believe it presents massive opportunities if done right that will ultimately have a positive influence by changing many of our behaviors that we’d consider bad habits.  

The entire quantified self space is doing a good job building interest and collecting data. But where they are failing miserably is interpreting that data and communicating it back to the user in meaningful ways that provide a better overall experience.

Having used Jawbone UP for 6 months now, I haven’t really got any more value out of it beyond knowing how many hours I slept and how many steps I took (which is cool in itself, to me). I sync it once daily and I check my stats. Would I care to know how many steps my dog took daily? Not really. By itself, It’s a novel concept that will wear very quickly and it’s likely that most dog owners, unless nerdy, wouldn’t purchase such a product as they’re probably aware the novelty will wear in advance.

I watch their product video and all I get out of it is, ok, this product collects my dogs data. The possibility of becoming part of a community to help graph every dog and create a rich dataset to discover insights that will hopefully lead to more in depth understanding of a particular breed sounds much more appealing to me.

The product needs to provide more value beyond collecting data and execution should not be about emphasizing data collection but rather data communication and the meaningful ways it can be interpreted.

I believe users would find much more enjoyment and find greater intrigue in these products if they are engaged with them — and that’s where many of these startups lack.

THEY’RE FAILING TO CREATE AN ENGAGED COMMUNITY.

And it’s a shame because greater engagement would mean more inputted data — therefore more plotted trends.

After a while the algorithms should develop a good understanding of the dog. It knows how much steps it takes on average, how much sleep on average, it should also begin to develop a good idea of it’s pace of movement and be able to determine abnormalities. That is where the true value lies in a product such as this. Being able to then receive a notification and be alerted when something seems wrong and then being able to plug into an entire community of dog owners with the same breed who may have experienced similar issues in the past.

Once alerted that it’s detected your dog is moving more sluggish than typical is a point at which a user would be willing to input additional data to develop a better idea as to why. And then once why has an answer i’m sure that user would be willing to input even more data to assist other dog owners of that breed.

And overtime between collaboration of the dogs, owners and vets a rich dataset is developed that will yield greater value.

I think a dog owner would invest $99 to not only have to rely on self judgement but also on analytical data and trends that’ll pick up and notify you when something is wrong and that’s really the value a product such as this can provide. Comfort in knowing that the least possible time will pass before you sense something may be wrong so that proper care can be taken and then be able to connect with owners that could relate and provide insights based on their experiences, as well as provide a sense of self gratitude in knowing that you are contributing to a data set with the intentions of bettering the breed.

I don’t care if my dog made a daily step goal and definitely have no interest in announcing that on facebook. I do care if my dog is sick and would without a doubt want to connect with breed owners that can most closely relate with the matter.

There’s a slight nuance there that if understood shouldn’t seem so subtle.

At the moment quantified self can not solely rely on data collected by a computer, it will require human input in order to optimize the user experience and meet consumer expectations which is possible with a clearly marketed vision and a properly executed product with the necessary feature sets that encourage engagement.

I think we’ve learned this already — pinpoint the optimal technologies necessary to create a platform for a particular purpose (which Whistle has executed well), encourage engagement through feature sets and people will share and will continue to for as long as you create value in exchange and continue to successfully execute.

The concept of “quantified self” isn’t novel — we need to stop making it out to be.

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