Facebook Have Created 'VR Emoji' Gesture Recognition

The entire point of emoji, as near as I can figure, is to convey things that you can't necessarily communicate in words, things that, in normal conversation, you would convey through body language. In that sense, Facebook's new 'VR emoji' undertaking seems like a fairly logical progression.

Basically, you can activate these emoji by gesturing in a way which reflects the relevant emotion. Bring your hands up to your cheeks for shock, raise them for elation, shake a fist for anger, etc. These gestures won't just summon a little yellow face, though. These responses will be mirrored through a floating avatar which resides in the VR world. Your digital self, as Morpheus would put it.

The avatars themselves look very similar to the ones used by Microsoft for Xbox user accounts (which, in turn, look a lot like the Mii's that Nintendo developed for the Wii). The logical conclusion of this concept would be avatars which you can control using your actual facial expressions, but Andy Serkis still has a monopoly on that technology, so for now we'll have to stick to hand gestures.

This does mean, presumably, that you'll have to keep on gesturing constantly to make sure your avatar doesn't just hover around with a creepy Mona Lisa-esque half smile. In fairness, it's not actually that difficult to be constantly physically expressive, and it's a small price to pay for seeing your avatar behave convincingly, instead of like a video game character from some time around 2004.

The lexicon will become more complex over time (right now it's limited to a handful of gestures), but Facebook's endgame is to create a system which track your eye movement, or even read your brain signals, and translate that into the VR landscape. As well as this, Facebook are experimenting with a system which will create avatars by scanning images users are tagged in on Facebook.

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