This bittersweet news could come as a relief and sign of hope to many pet owners and animal shelter volunteers.
Megvii is an Chinese AI startup that helps its government’s surveillance program by supplying facial recognition software. Now, it is expanding its technology beyond humans, to recognise pets through their unique nose prints.
One can use the company’s app to register their dogs by scanning their snouts from multiple angles via the phone camera. This is similar to how phones today use digital scanners for fingerprints.
Megvii says it has an accuracy rate of 95 percent and has reunited 15,000 pets with their owners through the app.
Given Megvii’s link with the government, it will go beyond just helping owners reunite with their pets. They said it could be used to monitor “uncivilized dog keeping” as well as fine civilians who do not pick up after their dogs, or unleash them in public places.
That later bit raises two major questions, isn’t it the responsibility and perogative of the owner to allow dogs to be unleashed and have some free play time? Two, how exactly will Megvii track when and which owners are not picking up after dogs and allowing them to walk unleashed?
Closer to home, UAE has a massive pet abandonment issue when expats migrate back to their home countries. The government has passed a law making abandonment illegal, but the ground level problem of tracking these pets remains an issue; with many still being abandoned on the streets, or worse, being locked to die inside the house. It is about time we have a startup in the UAE that follows suit to solve these problems and help the government and citizens take better care animals.