Chinese Startup Creates App That Finds Lost Dogs Using Photos of Their Nose

Chinese facial-recognition startup Megvii has been making news headlines for an app that allows people to track down their lost dogs using photos of their unique noses.

The idea of using AI-powered facial recognition technology to identify pets isn’t new, but what makes Megvii’s solution special is that instead of analyzing several facial features, like the eyes or snout, it focuses solely on dogs’ noses. Apparently, the patterns on a dog’s nose are just as unique as the ones on out fingertips, allowing the company’s app to track down pooches by matching their noses against a database with 95 percent accuracy. Megvii claims that its method is both cheaper and less invasive than inserting identification chips under the animals’ skin.

We’ve known about the uniqueness of dogs’ noses for quite a while now. For almost a century, kenel clubs around the world have been registering dog nose prints, to help locate them in case they get lost, using a primitive method that involved coating the nose with ink and pressing it a white sheet of paper. Megvii’s app makes things a lot easier, requiring dog owners to take photos or videos of their pets’ noses.

The app detects the key points of the nose pattern and sends the extracted nose pattern map to an online database, creating a unique ID for the dog in the process.

The app’s creators say that the nose is the most reliable identification trait for dogs. Similar to human fingerprints, dog nose patterns are unique and stable, that is, there are no two dogs with the same nose pattern and the same dog’s nose pattern will not change with growth. It is the most representative biological trait of dogs, and therefore it has become the key for identity authentication.

For now, the dog nose identification app is mainly aimed at dog owners looking for an easy way to track down lost pets, but Megvii claims that it can also be used by authorities to crack down on “uncivilized dog keeping” which basically refers to things like owners failing to pick up their dogs’ poop or walking them without a leash.