Facial Recognition: Now Helping You Find Hot Dates, Cute Pets

Introducing the services Three Day Rule and PetMatch

A mobile app like PetMatch lets users narrow their search of pets to lookalikes - even celebrities like Grumpy Cat or Lil Bub.Adam Rifkin/Flickr

Facial-recognition software cut its teeth on criminal mugshots, but now it offers an arguably more civic service: uniting people with potential life partners. Algorithms search for a match based on your prior dating or pet-ownership preferences. Friends accuse you of living in the past? Now you can relive it.

Three Day Rule

The dating service Three Day Rule—which recently partnered with Match.com—feeds a customer’s relationship history and preferences into software that hunts for potential dates with similar physical characteristics. The service’s software examines facial shape, jaw structure, and “eyes and nose coordinates.” The company says its goal is more efficient matchmaking, not to help customers find people that look like their exes—but we can’t help thinking of Lyle Lovett’s classic lyric: “I married her just because she looks like you.”

PetMatch

To home in on furrier friends, PetMatch searches for adoptable cats and dogs based on visual similarities. Users upload wish-list photos, which the mobile app reads like a book, pixel by pixel. It analyzes those pieces of information, turning them into a language that can help spot similarities within a database. Although some users might feel inclined to try to find a replica of a deceased pet or a Grumpy Cat facsimile, Superfish, the company that created PetMatch, isn’t too concerned. “Let the user decide what they’re looking for,” Geoffrey Shenk, vice president of business development for Superfish, says, “and let the experience run from there.”

This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Popular Science.