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Facebook Wants To Upgrade The Emoticon

What's the Latest Development?

While working with Facebook on improving their emoticon set, researcher and co-founder of the University of California-Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center Dacher Keltner heard about Pixar story illustrator Matt Jones' work with facial expressions for an upcoming film. Now they're collaborating on the Facebook endeavor, which will hopefully result in icons that express a much more comprehensive range of emotions, such as contemplation, determination, and gratitude, among others. Jones says, "What we need to aim at is instant readability, just like what we do in cartoons."

What's the Big Idea?

As part of the project, Keltner gave Jones a copy of Charles Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872), which, while providing a broad template, doesn't exactly correlate to modern psychological research on feelings and facial expressions. Still, the resulting sketches have been impressive, says Keltner: "He does simple lines for facial muscle movements, and when you look at them, you just say, 'wow,' because there is so much expressiveness." Naturally, the biggest challenge involves fitting these into the pixels-wide canvas occupied by standard emoticons. "We are trying to figure out how much looseness we can keep," says Jones.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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