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Facebook's New VR Emoji To Mimic Real Life Facial Expressions

By Anna Bringas , Oct 07, 2016 01:33 PM EDT
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"Shake your fist and your VR avatar's face will turn angry. Put your hands on your face Home Alone-style to express shock. Triumphantly thrust your hands in the air and your virtual self's face will show joy."

This is how Josh Constine describes Facebook's new VR emoji. Yellow illustrated emoticons popping up over your head seem to be long overdue. Instead, your every facial expression will be copied by your own avatar.

"When you send a message and you want to make an emotional point, you stick a VR emoji on there."  Michael Booth, Facebook's head of Social VR said.

Often times, a person tends to lose tone and more personal cues when texting, that is the reason why emojis emerged - to clarify what a person really means through a set of different expressions.  

"We're coming up with a language that triggers your avatar to make certain emotions," We can't just be a blank presence. We need some kind of emotions or it seems like totally flat affect. If you say something shocking to a friend in VR, but their face stays completely static, it breaks your sense of presence. We're accustomed to facial cues," Booth added.

When it comes to personalizing 1.7 billion avatars, Facebook is still experimenting to make it more natural so each avatar could look exactly like the user. The company eyes to potentially try to recreate a user's VR face from the photos tagged on its social network, Tech Crunch reported. Facebook plans to interweave both Oculus and Facebook as its concept of expanding Facebook's live streaming to the physical world ties Social VR back to the company's core product.

Booth says that if Facebook can build a compelling Social VR experience, "we'll figure out some way to monetize it. I'm sure advertising will be very interesting in VR."

At the moment, Facebook continues to achieve its mission of connecting the world by making relationships feel more intimate despite the distance. From Facebook's basic profiles to live videos in the news feed, from chat to multi-media messaging paired with the GIFs, from web to mobile, Facebook never ceases to evolve. 

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