Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Emoticons that Use (Insert your face here)

If you don't know what emoticons are, you may know them as "smiley faces." They are those little faces we insert into our emails or IMs that help the recipients know how we are feeling. They enable us, for instance, to write as if we are burning with a ferocious wrath (which we are), but soften the flames with a cute smiley. Or whatever expression you want to convey. Emoticons began with simple combinations of keystrokes that stood for an emotion, like :-) for happy, or >:-( for angry, or *-[+}} for existential angst. Pretty soon, technology advanced to the point where we could insert more realistic faces, little round yellow things that looked like the faces of little yellow people.

A new advance in the science of emoticons is upon us, however. U. Pittsburgh computer scientists have developed software that will let you use emoticons based on a picture of your own face. (I know, I know, but at least they're not busy making a doomsday machine.) Just one generic, expressionless photo of your ugly mug can be manipulated to look happy, sad, mad, lustful, bemused, dumbstruck, solicitous, stupefied, whatever! So keep your eyes open and your ears to the ground, 'cause this thing's coming soon.