Pets are a part of our families, and losing one can be devastating. When dogs run away, are stolen, or are lost, we spend hours and hours searching and calling for them. Being separated from a member of your family can mean sleepless nights and many visits to nearby animal shelters in the hopes that your friend has been found.
A new Chinese Artificial Intelligence startup called Magvii is working on new technology that could help reunite lost pets and their owners. Although facial recognition software has come a long way, they are using this technology to go in another direction- towards our dogs. Using pictures of a dog’s nose, Megvii can register the pet and scan their nose to create a profile. Dogs’ noses, like human fingerprints, are unique to that specific animal; your dog is, in fact, entirely one of a kind.
What Makes a Dog’s Nose Unique?
What makes a dog’s nose unique to each one are dermal ridges. Dermal ridges are patterns that are raised in the skin, causing specific patterns of bumps, whirls, and lines. Our human fingerprints are made up of dermal ridges, as are dog’s noses.
Much like we use our fingerprints to unlock our phones, Megvii’s app can scan a dog’s nose and its particular dermal ridge patterns and pull up its information in their database. So far, Megvii says they have brought back together over 15,000 lost dogs and their owners. Users can take multiple pictures of their dog’s nose and use them to create a biometric scan of the unique print, resulting in an accuracy rate of about 95%.
Other Technology Uses
The United States also has its own version of this technology through an app called Finding Rover, which helps locate dogs as well as cats and reunite them with their owners.
Additional uses of this technology include animal conservation efforts. Researchers are able to ID specific animals and track them based on photographic evidence of their unique physical features. For instance, gorillas, koalas, and chimpanzees all have unique fingerprints, much like humans, that can be used to identify individuals in a group.
Other creatures, such as pigs, have unique nose prints like dogs do. Stripes on a zebra are specific to each individual, as are whale’s tails. All of these physical features can be used to track animals in the wild and provide detailed information about how these individual creatures move, socialize, and live.
Gurun, Natt. 2019, July 13. A Chinese AI Startup is Tracking Lost Dogs Using their Nose Prints. Retrieved from https://www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2019/7/13/20693064/megvii-chinese-ai-facial-recognition-lost-pets-dogs-cats-surveillance
Staughton, John. 2017. Do Animals Have Fingerprints? Retrieved from https://www.scienceabc.com/nature/animals/do-animals-have-fingerprints.html