SwiftKey Brings AR-Based Animated Emojis to Android Devices
Several of the top brands have been integrating lots of cool emoji features. There is the Animoji feature from Apple that users can apply in creating their own animations that mirror their facial expressions. China’s smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi also has AR emoji functions capable of mimicking a user’s movements and expressions.
Another leading smartphone player, Samsung, also launched the AR Emoji feature built for its flagship mobile phones. The latest entrant into the AR emoji play is Microsoft which has launched a similar feature in the SwiftKey keyboard app. The Microsoft AR-based feature is known as Puppets and it utilizes the Microsoft computer vision artificial intelligence to imitate the user’s expressions and head movements.
The feature will leverage Microsoft’s face-tracking technology along with deep neural networks to make out the user’s expressions. Users are able to record up to 30-second videos which they can subsequently send through any social media or chat app.
The new animated emoji feature will be embedded directly into the SwiftKey mobile keyboard app with the company leveraging AI (deep neural networks) in replicating the deep facial expressions of the person in a 3D animated character.
The “puppets” feature will begin rolling out to users gradually from today enabling users to record themselves as a panda, dinosaur, owl, cat, panda or a dog as their preferred avatars within the SwiftKey keyboard complete with the head movements and expressions such as smiles, blinks and much more.
SwiftKey worked with thousands of videos and images from volunteers in training the deep neural networks capable of identifying the movements and facial expressions in real-time.
While the SwiftKey puppets is similar to other fun features already in place such as the AR Lens by Huawei and Apple’s Animojis, it differs in how it places this feature in-keyboard in SwiftKey, right inside a widely popular third-party keyboard mobile app which is good for accessibility. The keyboard app is undoubtedly the most used app in any mobile device as you have to press the keyboard for perform virtually any task be it mobile messaging or social networking. For many users who want to work with these AR-based emojis, having the ability to record personalized video messages inside their SwiftKey feature will be a convenient and welcome addition to their mobile experience.
SwiftKey fits in perfectly with people’s desire to type fast and the emojis provide an avenue through which they can express themselves in a fun and entertaining way.
SwiftKey was acquired by Microsoft three years ago for $250 million. Ever since, the software giant has worked to incorporate some interesting new features into the app such as an in-keyboard web search feature. Keyboards are typically extensible giving users the ability to customize and add extra features such as translations, GIFs, new theme options and a clipboard to the top menu bar of the keyboard. With the new AR-based animated emojis, users will now have the new access to the personalized 3D animal emojis.
For now, this functionality will be limited to the SwiftKey Android app. However, it will be possible for users to record a video and audio of up to 30 seconds and then share this content as a message via the various messaging or networking apps.
The new “puppets” feature works optimally in rooms that are well-lit so as to more effectively identify the user expressions. The feature also works only on a single face at a time. As far as online communication and networking goes, it adds something fun and fresh to the conversation, enabling users to communicate with more expressive emojis beyond the predefined GIFs.