Tech startup develops easy pet registration service using facial recognition

By Park Sae-jin Posted : October 18, 2021, 16:17 Updated : October 18, 2021, 16:17

[Courtesy of Pireco]

SEOUL -- Pireco, a digital authentication startup incubated by a state research institute, has developed an easy and quick pet registration service using facial recognition technology. The startup will begin the demonstration of its service for commercialization. As key biometrics, nose wrinkles will be used because they have unique characteristics like human fingerprints.

Owners can register pets by uploading photographs through a dedicated app so that the pattern of wrinkles and facial characteristics can be recognized. It is compulsory for a pet of more than two months old to carry a microchip implanted between shoulder blades. Otherwise, a pendant-shaped wireless authentication device is available. Violators will be given a fine of up to 600,000 won ($505). It costs an average of about 50,000 won per chip.

A 2020 state census showed that about 6.4 million homes, or 30 percent of South Korea's total households, have at least one kind of pet. However, not all pets are registered. About 2.3 million pets were registered as of 2020. Some 130,000 pets have been lost or abandoned every year. About 20 percent of stray animals have been euthanized with others adopted by families or organizations.

The Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) said in a statement that Pireco, a pet authentication service startup, partnered with Chuncheon some 75 kilometers (46 miles) northeast of Seoul to demonstrate the easy pet registration service until August 2022. The demonstration project involves other companies and organizations such as the Korea Internet Security Agency, a state internet watchdog, and the Korea Biometrics Association. Initially, some 500 pets will be registered.

"This project has a great meaning because it also means that Pireco has the technology and potential to become a major player," Pireco CEO Kim Tae-heon was quoted as saying. The pet registration service currently operates a pet biometrics solution app called "Peter Pet." The company has more than 3,000 sets of biometrics data.
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