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.
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