If you’ve ever wondered what’s the main breed of your lovable mutt, but don’t want to spend lots of cash on a DNA test with dubious results, Microsoft has just launched Fetch!, a new, free app that may answer your question.
And if you’ve always wondered what breed of dog you happen to look like, the app does that for you, too.
Fetch!, released to coincide with the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show next week, uses artificial intelligence to determine the breed based on a photograph. It also provides information about dog breeds.
“We wanted to bring artificial intelligence to the canine world. We wanted to show that object recognition is something anyone could understand and interact with,” said Mitch Goldberg, a development director at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, U.K., where his team created Fetch!.
“There was an interest in creating a framework that would allow you to take a domain – in our case, dogs – and recognize numerous classes, such as breeds. We were interested in enabling an app to allow you to make object recognition extraordinary, fun and surprising.”
It’s surprising, for sure. It identified my Pit Bull mix Ella as an Italian Greyhound in one photo, and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier in another.
And it identified my former dog Ginger (R.I.P.) as an Old English Sheepdog when she was, in fact, a 10-pound Maltipoo — although, okay, I can see a slight resemblance in her facial features.
Fetch! did a slightly better job with my dog Leroy, which it identified as an American Staffordshire Terrier. He’s more of an American Bulldog/Mastiff combo, but at least the app didn’t say he was a Pug.
If the dog’s breed is unknown, Fetch! displays a percentage of the closest breed, and you can tap it to display the top five breeds that could be in the dog.
Should you use a photo of, say, a cat or an inanimate object, the app will respond with the message “No dogs found!” and will even try to identify the non-dog with a question such as, “Hmm … this looks more like … flower?”
But if you take or upload a photo of a person, the app “will kick in to its hidden fun mode,” Goldberg said. “And in a playful way, it’ll communicate to you not only what type of dog it thinks you are, but also why. It’s fun to see if the app knows it’s not a dog. A lot of the time, it’ll tell you what that image is. When there’s not a dog, you still want to use it.”
I tried using a selfie, and apparently Fetch! thinks I’m a Chihuahua: “Quick-witted, loving, wary of strangers & other dogs.” Except for the “wary of other dogs” part, I guess this is pretty spot on.
Fetch! features the same artificial intelligence used by other Microsoft Project Oxford-powered apps, including How-Old.net, which guessed my age as 39. These apps really are amazing!