Tech start-up to use AI in ‘world first’ to judge pet competition

A UK-based veterinary research and development start-up will use AI technology in a world first feat, to judge entries to its pet model competition in the search for an animal to represent the brand.

Vet-AI was founded in early 2017 by tech expert Paul Hallett and experienced veterinarians Robert Dawson and Sarah Warren. The R&D firm has launched a competition to find a dog or cat to represent the flagship consumer app, Joii, and will use its own AI technology to judge the first round of pet photos.

The world’s first photography competition judged by artificial intelligence was conducted less than seven months ago by smartphone maker Huawei in its “Spark the Renaissance” photography competition, which saw five winners selected with a variety of landscape, wildlife and abstract images captured.

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Vet-AI claims it is the first in the animal healthcare sector to use AI to judge its own competition with Trevor Hardcastle, chief data scientist for Vet-AI, having spent the past year building the technology.

Trevor Hardcastle said: “The technology we’ll be using for the competition is based on image recognition models I have previously built for the Joii app, to detect skin conditions. The really clever part about AI, is that it can be trained to learn from any set of images. We’ve given it tens of thousands of images to learn from and so far, the whole team agrees with its top choices.”

Co-founder of Vet-AI Paul Hallett added: “We were concerned that we would be biased if we were to judge all the entries and wanted the AI to identify what beauty truly is. Every pet is beautiful so we’re creating a unique way for the technology to extract beauty and decide a shortlist of winning pets for the panel of judges. Having never been done before, every cat and dog involved in the competition is helping us to make history.”

AI will be used to take the long list of entries down to 10 cats and 10 dogs which will then be judged by an expert panel of animal and branding experts to be announced when the competition closes on 5 March.

Some 10 finalists will be selected winning a prize toolkit with the winning cat and dog gaining a professional photo shoot from leading pet-photographer.

Vet-AI’s flagship pet care app, Joii, will officially launch in spring 2019.

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