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Communications

New Face for Emoticons

Text-message system uses photos.

E-mailers and text messagers may eventually use their own faces as emoticons, those ubiquitous combinations of symbols that represent smiles, frowns, and other expressions. In the photos above, the far-left images are the originals; the rest are products of software co­developed by Xin Li, a Google software engineer who worked on the technology while earning his PhD at the University of Pittsburgh. Li’s technology stores the neutral face–and the face-warping software–on the recipient’s phone. When a messenger keys in text symbols–such as :) for a smile–the neutral face assumes the appropriate (well, sort of) expression. Since no photo is sent, the technology requires little bandwidth. It is finding its first application in virtual classrooms.

Warping software allows people to use their faces as emoticons. They manipulate the image to depict different emotions; the examples shown are “anger,” “disgust,” and “fear.”
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