WiFi? Cellular? Bluetooth? We Explain the Difference.


In today's digital world, nearly everyone is connected to one another somehow using wireless network technology. However, do we really know the difference between the terms WiFi, cellular, and bluetooth? Broadly speaking cellular technology is used for long-range (ie, nationwide) communications and data transfer whereas WiFi is used for mid-range applications and Bluetooth is used for very close-range settings. Although NIGHTWATCH® has all 3 technologies on-board to alert you at the first signs of danger or distress in your horse, we rely on cellular and WiFi networks for practical reasons since you cannot always be within sight distance of your horse to use bluetooth technology. 

WiFi: In the simplest terms, WiFi is a technology that allows devices—smartphones, computers, tablets, and more—to connect to the internet without any wires. WiFi uses radio waves to transmit data from your computer to the internet (or vice versa), and it also allows handheld devices to interact with each other when both connected to the same WiFi network. One of the most common questions we hear about NIGHTWATCH® is: Do I need WiFi in my barn for the halter or collar to work? Nope! Even though each halter or collar has the ability to connect to a WiFi network, your barn does not need to have WiFi for our halters or collars to alert you at the first signs of danger or distress. This is possible because each NIGHTWATCH® device has integrated cellular technology, which is much more pragmatic for horses and other non-domesticated animals that live in barns, pastures, and often travel.  

Cellular technology: True to its name, cellular technology is the main type of wireless network connectivity found in your cell phone. In this type of technology, data is transmitted through radio waves to a global network of transmitters and receivers, like a cell tower. Unlike WiFi, which uses one central hub and limited on distance, cellular technology is unique because it allows you to transmit data all over the country and world. For example, you can connect your smartphone to your personal WiFi network in your home, but if you travel too far from that particular network, your phone's cellular technology kicks in and transmits your data using cell towers as you move around. So what does this all mean? This means you can have peace-of-mind knowing NIGHTWATCH® will still alert you of danger or distress in your horse regardless of whether they are alone in their stall overnight, out in a large pasture during the day, or on the road in a transport van. Even in those remote areas with low cellular strength, we've got you covered. In those settings, NIGHTWATCH® still has the ability to leverage SMS (short message service) networks, which is separate and distinct from cellular networks.

Worried about your horse being exposed to radiation from cellular technology? Don't be! The safety of your horse is our highest priority. NIGHTWATCH® is considered a wireless device and requires FCC testing and certification. By the time our halters and collars are available in the US and Canada, they will have been rigorously reviewed for safety and approved for long-term use on horses. Further because NIGHTWATCH® analyzes all data at the point-of-care (ie, on your horse), more than 99% of the time there is no need to activate or even transmit data across any wireless network (WiFi or cellular). Activation and transmission is only required when danger or distress is detected, or when you log into the NIGHTWATCH® app to see the real-time status or historical data on your horse. All system and updates occur only while the device is off your horse and on the wireless inductive charger.

Bluetooth: Like WiFi and cell technology, bluetooth also uses radio waves—however, instead of connecting to the internet or a larger network of receivers, bluetooth allows devices to "talk" to each other over much shorter distances of 3 - 10 feet, although some transmitters can send communications up to 100 feet. Have you ever connected your phone to your car to play music or talk to someone using the car speakers? That's bluetooth in action—no internet connectivity is needed, but your devices are still communicating with each other.