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Google can help find your pet’s doppelganger in works of art — and we tried it

Examples from Google Arts and Culture Pet Portraits mode
(Image credit: Google)

Three years ago, Google updated its Arts and Culture app to allow people to search for their lookalike hidden in paintings around the world. Having mastered that, the company is now replacing skin for scales, fur and feathers and letting pet owners find their animals in the world of art.

“When you take a photo in Pet Portraits, our trained computer vision algorithm recognizes where your pet is, crops the image and puts them where they belong: front and center,” explains Michelle Luo, product manager of Google Arts and Culture, in a post on The Keyword blog.  

“Once that is done, a machine learning algorithm matches your pet’s photo with over tens of thousands of artworks from our partners’ outstanding collections to find the ones that look most similar.” 

To get in on the action, simply download the app for either Android or iOS, and then tap the rainbow camera button at the bottom of the screen. You can then either upload an image from your camera roll, or snap your pet in real time.  

While the 2018 selfie update required me to use a VPN to gain access when it launched in 2018, the pet update was available immediately. And with three feline co-workers sharing my home office space, I figured it was about time they earned their keep and contributed to my freelance writing career by posing for a few shots.

Examples from Google Arts and Culture Pet Portraits mode

(Image credit: Alan Martin)

Here’s Brando, a big, hard-to-snap fluffball who nonetheless is a 94% match for ‘The Love Potion’, which can apparently be viewed in the De Morgan Collection. He’d probably believe himself to have more in common with Lots of Luck, given he’s also from London, mind.

Examples from Google Arts and Culture Pet Portraits mode

(Image credit: Alan Martin)

Next up is Hamilton who, as you can probably tell from the photo, would not be amused if he had to wear the red ribbon showcased on ‘The Pet’ at the National Academy of Design. He’d also be equally insulted to be equated to the hanging scroll on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, so I’ll probably keep that one to myself.

Examples from Google Arts and Culture Pet Portraits mode

(Image credit: Alan Martin)

Last, but not least, is Ripley, and Google has excelled itself on this one. Yes, there’s more dark fur on the face, but I’ve definitely seen her pull both of those expressions before.

Round of ap-paws for Google, then. You can find more examples by exploring the #PetPortraits hashtag on both Instagram and Twitter, although it’s pretty obvious Google should have picked a less popular hashtag...  

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.