Isn’t it disappointing when you buy a new toy for your pet and it turns its nose up at it?
Petz, a chain of pet shops in Brazil, says it has a solution to prevent this from ever happening again—at least for dogs: It’s called Pet-Commerce, and it combines artificial intelligence with facial recognition to help dogs make their own online shopping decisions.
After clicking on the Pet-Commerce banner on the Petz website, owners have to hold an internet-enabled device in front of their dog’s face so the camera can identify the reaction to pet products like bones, toys and balls.
As customers click on each item, videos play featuring individual products. The videos have a yellow-and-blue color scheme because dog trainer Leonardo Ogata—who helped train the AI with thousands of pictures of dogs, including dozens of breeds and expressions—said dogs see those colors the best.
In a video demo, Petz’s agency Ogilvy Brazil says the system analyzes the pet’s face while they watch, including how the dog holds his/her head, and rates each item on a scale of one to five bones. It also uses the color red to identify products a dog isn’t interested in and green to highlight those that capture the animal’s attention. The site also has tutorials to help owners give their dog the best experience with tips like turning on the volume because hearing is an important sense for dogs, along with smell.
“The dog has to be relaxed, playful—no need to pick them up or hold their head, which can even irritate them,” Ogata said in a statement. “All you have to do is hold the camera right over their face so that it can pick up the responses in the best way.”
Once the dog “picks” an item, it is added to the owner’s shopping cart. The human consumer is able to confirm the transaction later.
“When Ogilvy came up with this idea, we [were] amazed because it fits in so well with what we [value]—that the bond between pet and [owner] can happen in many ways,” Petz CEO Sergio Zimerman said in a statement. “We empathize with those who throw their pets birthday parties [and] those who talk to their pets. I mean, the truth is that pet love has no bounds and Pet-Commerce just proves the point.”
Ogilvy notes this “groundbreaking project” enables Petz to expand its customer base and boost sales.
“We seek to work with campaigns that bring together technology, innovation and a great idea,” said Félix del Valle, chief creative officer of Ogilvy Brazil. “What’s new is that we can provide a unique experience to a new ‘shopper,’ the dog, something no one has ever done. Pet-Commerce is able not only to bring [owners] and dogs closer together but also to generate new business opportunities to our clients.”
And there’s good news for cat owners: Zimmerman said there’s potential to extend the project to felines.
Not everyone believes dog shopping is legit, however.
One U.S. CTO, for example, pointed to this study from the American Psychological Association that likened dog intelligence to a two-year-old human and asked, “How much online shopping did you let your two-year-old participate in?”