Apple’s very expensive and very contentious iPhone X came out last week, and, among its many vaunted new features, none has been more visible in the first couple days than the animoji. Those fantastic cameras and depth sensors crammed into the device’s top notch make its face-scanning Face ID technology possible, but they also work toward more frivolous ends, like using your movements to render detailed, animated emojis. Here is the way it is supposed to be used:
But almost immediately, it has been reclaimed and transformed by the internet, thanks in part to Fast Company’s Harry McCracken, who introduced animoji karaoke to the world:
And thus, a trend was born.
This all need not be contained to the world of music.
These examples (and the billion more online) point out the surprising ability of the technology to convey human emotion while stripping all identifying characteristics of the speaker. The Verge points out how well this works to enable video messaging—whereas before you may’ve hesitated to leave a video message for a friend depending on where you were and how you looked, here you can get your words out quickly, clearly, and expressively while still hiding behind the image of a rooster or piece of shit or whatever. Thus far it’s just been used for the quick viral trend of animoji karaoke, but it’s easy to see this technology making its way onto other platforms in the same way the static, old emojis did.
Of course, the distribution of any new technology, particularly a frivolous one, is destined to be met with some contempt, like this absolute scorcher of a take:
And, while Black Mirror itself already pointed this out when the technology was first announced, that doesn’t stop her from being sort of right in that the technology is remarkably cutesy for our currently cultural momen. Regardless, it’s safe to say that there will be many more animojis in your future whether you want them there or not. Embrace them or fight them; there will be no in between.