Lost your dog? Or found one in your neighbourhood With the PiP database and a new mobile application, all the lost Lassies and Fidos can find their way back home!
Putting up ‘Have you seen this dog?’ posters around the local neighborhood can only have limited success when a pet has gone missing! But what if facial-recognition technology could be used to help track down your dearest Fido? Every dog owner reading this is saying, “That’s genius!” But actually, it’s not that simple. The feature that makes dogs so cute and adorable also makes facial recognition incredibly difficult — their fur.
After some planning, the programmers of private institutions, in collaboration with the Software Development Center at the University of Utah, ended up developing a new algorithm called Pet Match that uses machine learning and computer vision to pick up on key features of dogs that differentiate them from the rest of the puppy population. Finding Rover is an app based on this software which recently hit the Apple App Store and is free to download. Android and Web versions will be available in a few months, so you can use the technology even if you don’t own a smartphone. Besides helping dogs and their families reunite, Finding Rover serves as a type of brag book. You can share photos of your dogs with your social circle, or your “pack,” and a tips-and-tricks section offers a place to post advice on everything from how to travel with your dog to how to train them.
Another new platform called PiP aims to create a photographic database of found dogs and cats, using facial recognition technology to help match them with lost ones. Pet owners downloading the free iOS app pay an annual subscription of USD 18 in order to keep their dog or cat registered on the PiP system, which holds details such as their name, location, size and gender, and most crucially clear images of the animal’s face. Users can create an account for each pet they own. If one goes missing, they simply press the ‘amber alert’ button, which sends the details to animal rescue organizations, vets and fellow app users located nearby. When a lost pet is found, its details can also be uploaded onto PiP’s servers, and the system uses facial recognition technology to automatically link found animals with registered pets. Pet owners are immediately notified if their dog or cat has been discovered.