Lost your dog? Find with phone! A three-step process records your dogs facial features (- FindingRover.com)
Lost your dog? Find with phone!
Lexile

Any pet owner who has spent days hanging posters, making phone calls and knocking on neighbors' doors hopes there's a better way to find a lost dog.

That became a reality when facial recognition technology successfully reunited a pet at San Diego County Animal Services. Joanne Cox's family in San Diego turned to FindingRover.com, a website and app that uses technology built by university researchers, to reconnect with their dog Roxy, a Shiba inu.

The website keeps a database of photos from the three county shelters. It tries to match eight distinctive facial markers on dogs with images uploaded by users searching for lost pets. Eyes and noses are important areas that differentiate pooches, including eye size and their position near the snout.

FindingRover.com founder John Polimeno wants to expand the photo database to improve the odds of more happy endings, with shelters elsewhere set to sign on.

The website is unique in using facial recognition but stands among many online tools people increasingly use to find lost pets. There are alarm systems, social media alerts and apps that post rewards or call people in neighborhoods.

Plus, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the largest and oldest humane society in the U.S., has its own mobile app for recovering missing pets. It offers tips on the best ways to search and allows users to create a digital flier to share on social media.

Facial recognition worked for the Cox family after Roxy bolted during a thunderstorm in late July. Five days after the dog disappeared, the family's 10-year-old daughter created a free Finding Rover account. The technology matched her uploaded photo to one taken at the shelter.

"Within four hours of her arrival to the shelter, we were there to pick her up," Joanna Cox said in an email.

Every dog entering San Diego County's three shelters is added to the photo database. Daniel deSousa, the system's deputy director, says the program can work two ways:

Someone finds a dog, takes its picture and sends it to the database, where a match generates a notice to the owner. The owner then can call the good Samaritan and arrange a pickup.

Dogs coming in to the shelters have their photos run against the database. If there's a match, the owner gets a call.

The technology powering Finding Rover was built by Steven Callahan and John Schreiner of the University of Utah's software development center. They found the eight markers on dogs are far fewer than the 128 points on the human facial recognition program.

It's difficult to measure accuracy, Callahan said. But if there are 100 dogs in a database, a top-three match would be hit 98 percent of the time.

Critical thinking challenge: John Polimenos system depends upon two different photos taken by two different people. Why?

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COMMENTS (12)
  • AllisonLogan1
    8/14/2014 - 07:50 p.m.

    This article was really good because it is about technology has again helped out our lives. This website or app would be good because we could find our lost dogs. Also it shows technology is taking over this world because there is a app for almost everything now. What was so interesting to me was how one picture of your dog, and how the size of its eyes or something would be able to find them and see what shelter they would be put in. Technology has helped us once again.

  • hannahsmith
    8/15/2014 - 08:57 a.m.

    Dogs go missing all the time and sometimes are never found. This is a great idea, and will probably be very beneficial for pet owners. More people will find their dogs. However, it might not work for some owners with lost dogs, because there might not be anyone willing to take the time to send in a picture if the dog. They might not even have a phone that sends pictures. It is interesting what kind of things people come up with now, though, and how we are progressing with our technology every day.

  • aydelotteg7
    9/19/2014 - 03:45 p.m.

    This app is a great idea. People's dogs go missing everyday. It would be helpful to many people all over the world. The app would help find dogs every where.

  • SAmber-Cas
    9/24/2014 - 05:57 p.m.

    I think this is an amazing idea. I have two dogs of my own and I would be completely devastated if I lost them cause they ran away. Although, I think there should be something else to the process besides face recognition. There should be a tracking device or something else to go along with it. But other than that I believe FindingRover.com can help a lot of families looking for their lost dogs.

  • 21lktemb
    10/21/2014 - 12:23 p.m.

    I think that this would be a great idea. I had a dog that was a west highland terrier and ran away in the winter. My mom and dad were asking my next door to see if he was there. We eventually found our dog.

  • Gigid-Lam
    10/22/2014 - 01:18 p.m.

    I think that this is a very good idea, I have two dogs and I would be so sad if ether one of them ran away. The facial recognition is a very clever idea. Although this article is very informing, I have one question after reading through this article, are they working on this technology for any other animal? Or are they just going to limit the technology to dogs? Overall I think that FindingRover.com will be a huge success and will prove it's self useful many times.

  • kschibik-Cla
    10/31/2014 - 01:31 p.m.

    I think it is very interesting that they are creating all these new apps that could be useful in life. A lot of animals tend to get lost now and days and this could really help a lot of people out.

  • Haley Patterson
    11/14/2014 - 01:39 p.m.

    I think this is such a good idea. I have a dog and would be very upset if he was lost. This is such a good idea and can help a lot of families find their best friends.

  • piaconstanzaheinrich
    11/16/2014 - 05:56 a.m.

    It is really interesting and useful these applications, I find that in this case the technology is beneficial and helpful to us, because thanks to this application that is formed from a database where the dog owner is in search your pet, you can access two data types that correspond to photographs.
    The first type of photography is simply someone who finds a dog he takes a picture and if it matches, the owner coordinates to pick up your pet.
    On the other hand we have another kind of photo that is more complete because every dog that comes to the shelter has its own photo in the database where states that the dog has 8 markers recognition far fewer than the 128 it has to face recognition human.

  • johanna.galloway34
    2/12/2015 - 01:09 p.m.

    Having this kind of software on your phone or computer is really helpful. Finding your dog is not that easy. But it's really helpful to use an app. I like how they just find the match of the dog your looking for. Then they would tell you that it's here and you would get the dog from the pound.

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