TrendsPolygram: turning facial expressions into emojis

Roberta Gavioli7 years ago7 min


Not everyone knows how to express their emotions, but smartphones and social media are changing the dynamics a bit. Hidden behind their screens, people tend to communicate more with symbols and lose out on a lot of the nuances found in facial expressions. And still, sometimes you can’t find the right emoji to express exactly how you’re feeling. But where humans have failed to go, artificial intelligence may be able to reach: just look at what’s going on at Polygram.

The app that reads your face and turns photos into emojis

Polygram is an artificial intelligence-endowed application that can identify human facial expressions and transform them into emojis. The system is based on neural pathways that can analyze faces using a graphic function within the iPhone (yes, it’s only available for iOS at the moment). In this way, it can use the front camera to read a user’s reaction, and in just a few seconds, convert it into a ‘smiley’ that can be used to comment on social media posts.

Focusing on emojis doesn’t exactly seem revolutionary, considering that giants like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter already use them widely. But just think that these are literally reading a user’s face in real time, and they can then use the emojis to reflect their feelings at the bottom of the screen — it’s another step ahead. It’s beyond interactivity, and this could be Polygram’s real trump card. It just remains to be seen whether the big competitors try to go down the same path, or even try to swallow up the new arrival.


Looking good with filters designed by plastic surgeons

Using artificial intelligence, the application recognizes facial expressions of people in videos and photos and turns them into emojis. But that’s not all. The smilies can change quickly along with the movements on the face of the person in frame. This means there can be several expressions, or you can even change them with filters. Yes, because besides transforming the image into an emoticon, just like its predecessor Snapchat, Polygram lets you add animated filters to published content. But the app takes even more meticulous care than you might think to make people look good. In fact, according to Faryar Ghazanfari, one of the project’s founders, professional plastic surgeons contributed to the design and programming the animated filters.

More connected, more private

Polygram is a much richer tool than just a simple social media app where you can play around with selfies and turn them into emojis. It also provides an accurate analysis of reactions and user trends in relation to the content they publish: they can see the number of views on individual posts, the number of screenshots taken, and stats by gender and location. These might seem like a just extras to the casual user, but they’re an important ally for influencers, who base their whole communication strategy on reactions of their followers.

And yet, even though there’s this huge desire to respond to posts with more authentic expressions, there are still plenty of people who prefer to stay behind the scenes. That’s why Polygram’s “wipe to reveal” feature is so popular. It’s a special filter than covers images with a sort of fog so other users can’t see the photo underneath. You can only remove the effect by swiping over it, but the effect only lasts a few seconds. This way, clearly public content can still maintain that air of mystery and privacy. It’s a nice way not to leave traces on other people’s phones, and to know that they can’t take a screenshot because the whole photo will never be visible.

Roberta Gavioli

Giornalista di Innovazione, Travel Blogger, Event Planner. Se è vero che il presente è digitale, il futuro è senza dubbio nelle persone. Amo la carta, ci scrivo, la leggo, la piego in origami, la dipingo e la trasformo in idee. Per me le scelte più importanti della vita si trovano sul fondo di una buona tazza di tè.

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