The Worst Ideas. Updates every Monday!

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Tag: emoji

Become vexed that you are unable to find a red-headed emoji face!

Background: An emoji overview:

hair

Fig 1: Current Apple emoji skin tones. Available tones vary by emoji font designer (e.g., Google, Microsoft).

Emoji people were originally only available with a light skin tone. Recently, more skin tone options have been added (Fig 1).

However, they are just a recoloring of the original emoji, and thus may not have realistic hair options. For example, the only women’s emoji hair option (as seen above) is “long and straight” and the only men’s hair option is “short and generally indistinct.”

Below, we will propose a method for easily allowing custom colors by using a phone camera, but first let us examine the present emoji situation.

The current state of the art:

family

Fig 2: Emoji families (or possibly “emoji movie theater with low seats, and two children in a row in front of two adults”) currently only exist in this one shade.

santa

Fig 3: unlike an emoji family, Emoji Santa Claus may have varying skin tone.

catFig 4: emoji cats can have multiple facial expressions. The emoji cat is unique among non-human animals in having a wide range of facial expressions.

snakeFig 5: Unlike the cat, the emoji snake has no ability to express emotion. Font limitations may make infinite combinations of facial expressions / skin (or scale) colors impractical, so less popular options (“coral snake that is crying while listening to music on 70s headphones”) are not currently available.

fish

Fig 6: The emoji fish exists in six variants—pufferfish, yellow fish, blue fish, dolphin, lungfish (cartoon), and lungfish (realistic).

Proposal:

Instead of selecting from a list, a user could set an emoji skin / fur / scale tone using the built-in camera in their phone (Fig 7).

emoji_photo

Fig 7: With the cameraphone in their left hand, this tomato-colored user is taking a picture of their right hand for use in the auto-emoji-coloring algorithm. Now the emoji people on this phone will have a tomato option.

emoji_color_animals

Fig 8: Now that we’ve decoupled eye color, hairstyle, hair color, and skin color, it is possible to make any combination of features. These new features can be applied to all animal emoji as well.If you want your cat emoji to be colored the same as your actual cat, you could take a picture of your cat instead of your hand. Perhaps you could even make the “car emoji” the same make and model of your actual car!

Conclusion:

It was apparently possible to add the flags of every country in the world, plus Antarctica (ant), so clearly space is not extremely limited. Perhaps Blue Emoji Cat With Red Whiskers really will be added in a future Unicode update.

PROS: Opens up a new world of hilariously colored animal emoji. Increases employment for font designers and font-related programmers.

CONS: Opens up a new world of font-related bugs. Assumes you’re willing to have a 250 megabyte font of “all combinations of human and animal skin / scale / fur / feather tones, hairstyles, hair colors, and eye colors” in memory on your phone at all times.

A call to action: stop being a slacktivist—it’s time to update emoji to prevent emoji obsolescence! (Or: emoji serve inadvertently as a time capsule of the early 2000s.)

Background:

As time goes on, certain emoji will become obsolete. Some of them already have! Although this is not a huge problem right now, it may become one in the future: will anyone understand what the “pager” emoji means in 100 years?

pager

Fig 1: In a hundred years, this pager icon will will baffle and befuddle all but the most erudite historians.

Fig 2: For people of the future, the pager icon will be as perplexing as this device probably is to you, unless you work in a historical re-creation village or something (This is an apple peeler.) Image citation.

The plan: periodically update emoji symbols

So we need to update our symbolic language to take into account the new technology.

Below are some examples of what emoji would have looked like if they had been created in years past.

These should serve as a cautionary tale and convince you of the necessity of occasional emoji symbol updates!

historical_emoji_MEDIUM_SIZE

Fig 3: This figure should convince you of the necessity of occasional emoji updates. If the emoji in the right column had been created in ancient times and never updated, we would be stuck with the no-longer-representative icons in the left column. For example, we would still have to use the “plague doctor” icon to refer to medical professionals.

Suggestion:

We may occasionally be able to predict certain aspects of the future and fix our soon-to-be-obsolete emoji ahead of time.

Future Emoji

Fig 4: Even in the early 2000s, we have the opportunity to add a few “for future use” emoji before we absolutely need them. Here are some examples of easy ones that are guaranteed to be correct. Also, we can probably remove emoji for most extinct animals in the future. Sorry, soon-to-be-extinct animals!

Possible Difficulty:

Due to the convergence of technology, sometimes multiple devices in the past will end up being the same icon in the modern era. For example, the camera, camcorder, phone, pager, fax machine, and computer have all been combined into the modern cell phone. It is unclear how to deal with this scenario in a satisfactory manner.

Convergent technological development

Fig 5: One issue with updating emoji is that multiple former-era-emoji may map to a single emoji in the current era, as seen above.

Conclusion:

As usual, this is a great idea!

PROS: Prevents emoji from becoming confusing and obsolete.

CONS: May make old documents unreadable if old symbols are retired or replaced, and thus rarely or never encountered except by historians.

Sources of certain images: