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Facebook and Pixar artist team up to create the future of the emoticon

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MATT JONES BUZZFEED facebook emoticon sketches
MATT JONES BUZZFEED facebook emoticon sketches

Facebook is looking to revamp the emoticon. As reported by BuzzFeed, the social network has enlisted Pixar story artist Matt Jones and UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner to try and "crack a universal language" with a set of complex and understandable emoticons that can express the wide range of nuanced emotions we experience. Jones' experiences from Pixar appear to be a perfect fit for the job: the animation studio has long had to convey the emotions of inanimate objects.

Jones is working independently on the project, however, and after being tasked by Keltner with a small group of typical emotions — think fear, anger, happiness, and sadness — the psychologist challenged him with Charles Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Some of the early work obtained by BuzzFeed looks promising: ideas like maternal love, affirmation, and contemplation certainly do come across in Jones' drawings. He's apparently been experimenting with three-dimensional emoticons and some degree of animation to assist in conveying expressions in the few pixels afforded to him in a chat window. There's no word on how far along the project is, but we would welcome some new ideas in the space.