New Technology to Save Abandoned Canines

( Cutting-edge facial recognition technology developed by a Kiwi company is set to help thousands of homeless dogs throughout the country.

Facial recognition experts NEC have developed Doggelgänger – a state-of-the-art human to canine pairing software designed to connect homeless dogs to their human doubles.

The software will be used by the Pedigree Adoption Drive Charitable Trust in this year’s annual campaign, which aims to give the thousands of dogs abandoned every year in New Zealand a second chance at life.

The Pedigree Adoption Drive Charitable Trust is part of a global programme established by Pedigree to help raise awareness and funds for desperate dogs in local communities, helping to house, feed and care for the unwanted canines. It is estimated that more than 10,000* dogs are abandoned by their owners each year in New Zealand.

The development of Doggelgänger by NEC follows a 2004 study by the University of California San Diego that found when people look for a canine companion, they look for one that resembles themselves. The study concluded that dogs are more likely to be chosen by a person who shares similar features.

The technology will match up potential new owners with dogs from local SPCA shelters throughout the country who are desperately in need of a good home, says Pedigree marketing manager Oliver Downs.

“Until now, the plight of homeless dogs has been a faceless cause,” says Downs.

“But by connecting a real person to a real homeless dog, Pedigree and NEC have created a hugely personal experience – one that will give homeless dogs across the nation the very best chance to set up that vital first meeting in the journey to finding a new home.”

NEC’s Head of Research and Development Glen Cameron says the core technology “NeoFace” has been ranked** as the world’s most accurate at comparing human to human faces.

The software is also used internationally in applications such as anti-terrorism and automated border control.

“Although the algorithms were not tuned to detect dog faces, the company’s experiments with matching dog versus dog faces actually worked surprisingly well. A few small modifications to the engine allowed us to achieve an exciting concept which has been developed into an extremely entertaining site,” says Cameron.

The technology works by looking for visual areas of similarity between browsers and an abandoned canine looking for a home.

“Change your expression and you may get a happy, sad or crazy looking look-a-like. Regardless of your match you can choose to share the result via social media websites,” says Cameron.

The Pedigree Adoption Drive will run from June 19th to August 13th and Pedigree will donate a portion of every sale on specially marked packs to the Pedigree Adoption Drive Charitable Trust to help care for New Zealand’s unloved and unwanted dogs.

For more information on the Pedigree Adoption Drive and Doggelgänger see

Media Release 24 June 2011.