PiP Uses Facial Recognition To Reunite Lost Pets With Their Owners

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Having your dog or cat run away is pretty traumatic. And even if somebody finds your furry friend, they might not know where to find you. If your pet ends up in a shelter, chances are high that it will be euthanized, so Philip Rooyakkers, the CEO of PiP – The Pet Recognition Company, decided to see if he and his team could use facial recognition instead of tags to more easily report and find more lost pets.

PiP launched its Indiegogo campaign today. The company is looking to raise $100,000 in the next month to raise the final funds necessary to bring the app to market.

I ran into Rooyakkers at the GROW conference in Vancouver last week, and he told me that the company’s technology, developed by the image-recognition expert Dr. Daesik Jang, is able to recognize 98 percent of dogs and cats. With the help of some extra metadata (breed, size, weight, gender, colors etc.), this means PiP can recognize virtually every lost pet.

happy-pet-ownerHere is how it works: Pet owners sign up for PiP and upload photos of their pets to the system. The technology then analyzes the pet’s unique facial features and stores the data in its database.

Anybody can download the app to report found pets. Pet owners pay a subscription to PiP (the plan is to charge $1.49 per month, with 2 percent of all proceeds going to local pet rescue charities) and the moment their pet goes missing, PiP will alert local animal control and rescue agencies, veterinarians and social medial outlets.

This “Amber Alert” for missing pets is at the core of what the service does. It will also scan social media for postings about found pets. “We will not only broadcast across all social media that the pet is missing, but everyone with the app (in that locale) will get a pop-up Amber Alert. We will contact the owner directly to listen, provide PiP’s immediate response, and offer support,“ Rooyakkers said in a statement today.

Whenever a pet is found, PiP will use its facial recognition software to see if it can find a match in its system. To avoid false positives, Rooyakkers told me, somebody will always look at the metadata to ensure everything checks out.

Obviously, there are a few other ways to identify lost pets, including ID Tags and microchip implants. However, there are numerous standards for microchips, so not every shelter or clinic can scan every chip. Facial recognition would also allow anybody to scan dogs or cats right after finding them without the need for any special equipment, which should make reuniting them with their owners faster and easier.