The Lost Dog Business gets an upgrade with Facial Recognition and GPS apps

Two apps designed to make finding your lost dog, one using facial recognition technology and the other incorporating Google Maps GPS data. 

Finding Rover

Finding Rover, created by US couple John and Kristie Polimeno, is perhaps the most intriguing of the two, mainly because it incorporates something called a "bark button". This is designed to get your mutt's attention -- you press it, it plays a recorded bark, your dog looks in your direction -- so you can take advantage of a photo opportunity. There's a patent pending for the technology behind it called Pet Match, a machine learning system developed at the University of Utah over two years and funded by the Polimenos.
The iOS app (an Android version is due to launch later this year) allows anyone who has found a stray to take a snap of the dog's face and upload it, or just upload a photo taken using their smartphone. It will scan the image, picking our distinctive features and matching with a database of lost dog faces already uploaded. If there's a match, contact details for the owner will be included in the appropriate profile.

"Finding Rover is for anyone who cares about dogs and wants to make sure they find their way back home, regardless of if they own a dog or not. Our goal is to be an essential part of dog lovers' day-to-day routines that they can rely on in the event of a missing dog."

As, losing the pet is not a day-to-day occurrence, but it provides people with a way of catching up with fellow dog lovers local to them i.e. a kind of friend-finder service for canine lovers. The app is so far only available in the US. Its success is heavily dependent on how many people sign up to the service. It's not yet been live a month, and has already acquired a 4.5 star status on iTunes, so there's hope for an impending expansion.

The app, available on both iOS and Android platforms, looks a little more basic, with downloadable PDF printouts of posters the finders or seekers have made. You can report the GPS coordinates of where you lost or found a dog, and log a short description including colour, date, microchip number and character. For instance, Chi-wienie of Dickinson, Texas is brown/golden and was given this bio: "he's small, skinny , he usually barks at strangers  and he will come and answer to Winnie."

As with Finding Rover, finders and seekers can upload either an email or phone number (the trusting community appears to have no qualms about uploading their address and personal contact details, which are visible to all on.

It's early days for the niche service and with both apps currently free, how much the developers invest in improving the functionality will be reliant on the user base they can gain in the early months and any subsequent advertising opportunities. It's a good concept though, and a much needed update on tree-pinned posters, which have zero capacity for updating the viewer as to whether or not the dog has been found.
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Write by: RC - Monday, August 12, 2013

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