Finding Rover is a new smartphone app and online service with one simple mission: help reunite lost pets with their distraught families. It uses facial recognition technology and aims to match found dogs with the posts placed by their lost owners.
John Polimeno came up with the idea for the app three years ago, after seeing lost dog posters around his neighbourhood which reminded him of the time his own dog was lost. He promptly got to work building the app, working closely with University of Utah scientists on the technology to make facial recognition software that would work on dogs.
To begin the process people with lost pets download the free app or create a profile on the website and register their pet with a recent photo, on which you map their face by telling the app where the pet’s eyes and nose are. Then you add details on their name, breed, and other information. When describing how the app recognizes a pet’s face, creator Polimeno says “We basically take 128 points around the face and there is texture and color,”
On the other end of the service, when one finds a dog believed to be lost the finder can upload a picture of the animal to Finding Rover and if the dog is already registered on the website there will be a match, and the owner of the pet will be notified. When the match comes up it will list the location of the pet and contact info of the finder. Conversely, when an owner uploads a photo of an already lost pet (as opposed to pre-registering a pet that hasn’t yet gone astray) if there are already “found” posts that match it will let them know.
Beth Brookhouser of the Monterey County SPCA said they plan to use the service on any dogs brought to the shelter, to try to locate the owners if the dog is lost. She also wanted to stress that what will make Finding Rover particularly successful is pet owners pre-registering their pets on it before they are lost. Most shelter animals are most likely lost pets and “If we had 20,000, 30,000, 50,000 people here in Monterey County (register their dogs online) these owners may have been able to easily find their dogs.”
Polimeno states that he is working with shelters around the country to start including registering dogs on Finding Rover into their current process admission process streamline the process.
In addition to using the app’s lost dog feature, the SPCA will also be using its adoptable dog feature. Within the app and on the website there is a designated area that allows
users to see all shelter dogs and all of the adoptable dogs in their area.
So far over 100,000 users worldwide have signed up for the app, and over 500 lost pets have been successfully reunited with their owners! Make sure you sign up today, on the website or smartphone app and register your dog, just in case! Hopefully you’ll never need to use it, but in case of emergency it’s a really fantastic option to have in your arsenal.
Don’t own a dog? Cat owners can rest easy, as there is also a cat version available!