Facial recognition has gone to the dogs in New Zealand. Cats, too.
The New Zealand Companion Animal Register (NZCAR), a nonprofit service dedicated to reuniting lost pets with their owners, has announced that it is now using biometric technology to help track lost dogs and cats. Anyone interested in using needs only to upload a photo of their lost pet to the NZCAR database, with facial recognition used to match it against photos of found animals uploaded by other users, and photos of animals posted on lost-and-found Facebook sites. NZCAR says the technology is so effective that it can even match a pet that has been shaved; it’s only looking at biometrics pertaining to the relative alignment of eyes, nose, and mouth.
While the technology will strike many end users as somewhat radical, this isn’t even a new application of facial recognition technology. For example, the US saw the launch of a facial recognition-based app for finding lost dogs (called Finding Rover) back in 2015. At the start of last year, researchers even announced a facial recognition system that could be used by conservation researchers to track lemurs. It all points to the versatility and sophistication of contemporary facial recognition technology.
Of course, in announcing its new service, NZCAR emphasized that the surest way to keep track of a pet is to have it ‘microchipped’. But facial recognition can offer a valuable extra tool to help bring lost dogs and cats home.