Facebook teaming up with Pixar artist to change your emoticons

Your emoticons will be able to do a lot more than just smile, laugh and shed a few tears if Facebook has its way. The social networking giant is teaming up with a Pixar story artist and a psychologist to come up with emoticons that accurately describe a whole range of feelings.

Facebook is working on a host of new emoticons that will depict not just different types of happiness but also complex emotions like maternal love, devotion, resignation and determination, reports BuzzFeed. To make a tiny thing like the emoticon show a wide range of human emotions is no mean feat and hence, Facebook has turned to Matt Jones, Pixar story illustrator and former storyboard artist at the Wallace and Gromit Studio to help out in reinventing the smiley.

While we would have loved such a collaboration, Pixar itself is not a part of this reinvention project with Facebook, only Jones is. And why wouldn't we, Pixar is after all best known for providing life like animations to inanimate objects. "Facebook was canny enough to realise that traditional emoticons are quite bland," says the artist. "At Pixar we consider emotional states every day with every drawing we make. Our work is informed by the years of study we do, constantly studying people's gestures and expressions in real life."

This is what your Facebook Emoticon could look like (Image Credits: BuzzFeed)

This is what your Facebook Emoticon could look like (Image Credits: BuzzFeed)


Jones was singled out to help spruce up the smiley by Dacher Keltner, co-director of University of California-Berkeley's Greater Good Science Program who was helping Facebook on this project already. Keltner threw commonly expressed emotions like anger, fear, disgust, happiness and sadness at Jones to turn into smileys. After getting impressive results, Keltner upped the ante, handing over Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, to Jones.

The book that was published 13 years after Darwin’s acclaimed The Origin of Species shows similarities between human and animal facial movements and Jones got to work, turning all of these expressions into emoticons for Facebook.

He found the exercise challenging, especially when it came to changing elaborately worded descriptions into small emoticons. Jones is currently using Facebook’s standard yellow smileys as emoticons, with additional red for anger and green for envy. He says he tried using Facebook blue, but it just made the emoticons look like they had hypothermia. Jones even says that he is encouraging Facebook to add movements to the emoticons to turn them into "little living creatures".

This change over in emoticons suits Facebook’s scheme of things well with the website experimenting on a small scale with a wider base of emoticons to add to status updates since the end of January. This new status composer will let you add emoticons that describe not just emotions but also actions such as reading, eating or just watching the composer.

This new status composer has currently been shared only with a handful of users on the website and the mobile site. Facebook has jumped on to the smiley bandwagon rather late—Google+ already supports animated emoticons on its mobile app and Path allows users to "smile" at each other’s posts. Facebook only recently started prompting users to update their status about what has been going on and how they are feeling. Detailing it with emoticons only seems like the next logical step for Facebook to get more users to share status messages.

The new status composer will have emojis that show feelings, culinary smileys and even pre-made smileys for popular books and shows like Game of Thrones and 50 Shades of Grey.

Published Date: Feb 09, 2013 13:02 PM | Updated Date: Feb 09, 2013 13:02 PM