Facebook And A Pixar Artist Are Trying To Reinvent Emoticons

By Justin Lafferty 

Facebook has been trying to rethink emoticons. First, it placed them in status updates, but now it wants to go a little deeper. BuzzFeed reported Friday that Facebook has turned to a Pixar artist (as well as the work of Charles Darwin) to create new emoticons that really get in touch with how people feel.

Facebook has tapped Pixar artist Matt Jones to redesign emoticons in a way that truly convey what users are feeling at any moment. The social network wants to go beyond smiley faces, winky faces, and frowny faces and get more in touch with the human psyche.

Jones has been studying the work that Darwin did with regard to emotions and facial expressions to better understand that what’s currently out there on the Web doesn’t come close to cracking the range of human feelings.

Jones talked with Buzzfeed about the collaboration he’s doing with Facebook:

Facebook was canny enough to realize that traditional emoticons are quite bland. At Pixar, we consider emotional states every day with every drawing we make. Our work is informed by the years of study we do, constantly studying people’s gestures and expressions in real life.

Most emoticons on Facebook (and the Web) are in standard yellow, but Jones said he tried working with Facebook’s trademark blue. It didn’t really look that great. He is experimenting with different colors, though.

Jones is also trying to see if Facebook would support animated icons, like those in Skype:

I love on Facebook when you hit the like button on your iPhone, and the thumb will kind of pulse a little. I’m encouraging them to put movement into the emoticons. Hopefully, we can evolve them into living little living characters.

Readers: Here are some of Jones’ sketches for new Facebook emoticons — what do you think?