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Review: Voyce is the wellness monitor for dogs that makes wearables vividly relevant

Jon Phillips | May 28, 2015
Even if you retired your Fitbit or Fuelband to a desk drawer long ago, you may still find room in your heart for another activity-tracking wearable. No, not for you--for your dog. The Voyce health and wellness monitor bypasses human biology entirely, and sets its sights on canis familiaris, a species with much less capricious technology habits.

Your subscription fees cover all these features, and also pay for storing your dog's data on the Voyce servers. It's a robust platform, but it's worth noting that all popular human wellness wearables come with free monthly cloud service. As for the dashboard itself, it's easy to navigate on a desktop display, but it loads too slowly. I often found myself impatiently waiting for Voyce's servers to update Whiskey's charts.

Another gripe: There's no mobile app. Instead, the website employs a "responsive" design that automatically adjusts the user interface for smaller devices like tablets and smartphones. It sounds good in theory, but the render on smartphones is cramped and non-intuitive. I also found the phone experience amplifies already annoyingly slow load times. On the upside, Voyce says it's working on a mobile app that will enable push notifications and other niceties we've come to expect from activity tracking apps.

Not the wearable for dainty dogs

As for the collar itself, well, let's just say it's not ready for Project Runway. I want Whiskey's coat to look lush and healthy, but I'm not interested in doggie fashion, so Voyce's cold, institutional aesthetic doesn't bother me (and I know it doesn't bother Whiskey). Still, its general look and feel evokes a shock collar — or possibly even a GPS monitor that you might see on a criminal under house arrest. It's not a glamorous look, and that might be a deal-breaker if you named your dog Princess or Buttercup.

Battery life is rated for seven days, and I found this estimate to be accurate. The collar is waterproof down to one meter, so feel free to enter DockDog competitions. Data syncs with Voyce's servers over Wi-Fi every four hours or on-demand via a button press. You can add up to 10 Wi-Fi networks, allowing you to sync pretty much everywhere your dog regularly visits.

The Voyce collar currently comes in four sizes, supporting necks as scrawny as 12 inches and as burly as 32 inches. That's a wide range, but if you intend to buy Voyce for a toy breed, you'll have to wait for i4C Innovations to miniaturize the collar further. The company is targeting the Q4 2015/Q1 2016 time frame for that next step.

Ideally, the Voyce sensor is supposed to settle at the 6 o'clock position below a dog's neck. Whiskey's collar always seems to be pushed off to one side, but I've never seen any evidence of uncollected data. The Voyce team says as long as the sensor housing is sitting between 3 and 9 o'clock, data collection should be fine.

As you can see from the photos in this article, the plastic collar picks up scuffs and dirt. Like the basic aesthetics, this doesn't bother me. However, I am bothered by the collar's bright, blinking green LED, which serves as a visual indicator to confirm the band is working. When Whiskey enters the bedroom in the middle of the night, the LED lights up the whole room — and that negatively affects my health and wellness.

 

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