BYU students expand Animojis to include Sign Language

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Their Handimojis are still in prototype phase, but the students are looking to expand.

PROVO (ABC4 News) – Advertising students at BYU have developed a prototype for an Animoji-like program that incorporates American Sign Language (ASL): Handimojis

The Apple Animojis use facial tracking software to superimpose your facial features onto an animal emoji. This new prototype expands that tracking software to hands and sign language. 

Sam Carlson is one of the Handimojis creators. He was exposed to ASL in high school and then volunteered on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaking ASL. In his advertising classes, he was encouraged to create an idea that integrated an existing brand with an existing community, and Handimojis was born. “From what we understand, it should be a simple integration of applying the technology to the hands.”

Carlson explained, “We took the Animoji technology that Apple already has and used that to track [the model’s] head and face movements and then we sent the video to our animator and she tracked the hands, then we overlayed the Animogi video and the Handimoji video.”

Britta Schwall was the model in the video and a member of the deaf community; she said that this kind of technology is exactly what she’s always on the lookout for. Schwall explained, “With Handimoji, the addition of the hands adds the ability to express ourselves fully. The facial expressions are very important as well. Just as hearing people use the tone of their voice to express emotions, our facial expressions within the deaf community are how we express emotion when speaking.”

Right now, Handimoji is just a video prototype, but Carlson says the idea is gaining traction. “Right now we’re trying to get Apple to recognize it and say this is something we should consider or incorporate into our devices.”

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