They generally don’t let dogs into tech trade shows — how unfair! — which is why the pooch in the photo above, which I took at CTIA Wireless in New Orleans, is stuffed. He’s helping to demo Tagg, a gadget that uses GPS to help you keep track of your pooch. (I visited with executives of Tagg’s maker, Snaptracs, at the booth of its parent company, Qualcomm — which, despite being a gigantic maker of chips and other technologies for mobile devices, always seems to have interesting side projects going on.)
Tagg is a small, squarish, waterproof doohickey with embedded GPS and antennas that are in the form of flexible fins. You can mount it on any dog collar. (In theory, you might also attach it to your cat’s collar, but it looks a bit too bulky to be feline-friendly, unless you’ve got a pretty burly kitty — the Tagg website says it’s designed for pets over 10 lbs.)
You then set a “Tagg Zone” that indicates the area surrounding your home where your pet is allowed to go. If the animal leaves the approved area, you get an e-mail and SMS alert — and can use the web or an iPhone or Android app to see its current location on a map. There’s also a Trip mode that lets you temporarily shut off tracking when your dog is being walked or is otherwise away from home but under human supervision.
The Tagg tracker runs for between two weeks and a month on a battery charge. It comes with a recharging station that it can communicate with directly over a short distance, which helps to conserve power as long as the pet is within range. It’s $99.99 for the tracker and station, plus $7.95 a month; the first month is free, and there are discounts on the hardware and service if you equip multiple critters with Tagg. It’s available from Snaptracs and is coming soon to the Apple Store and other retailers.
I don’t own a dog at the moment, but when I learned about Tagg, I immediately thought of Tristan, a gigantic golden retriever/poodle mix who was part of our family when I was a kid. Every so often, he liked to bolt out the front door and go adventuring on his own; my mom would then have to get in the car and slowly circle the neighborhood until she spotted him. If we’d had Tagg, it would have saved mom a lot of time — and spoiled Tristan’s fun.