Charles Darwin’s Galapagos Finches and his book “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals” are the inspirations for Facebook’s new animated Sticker pack, which begins rolling out today to Chat in Facebook for iOS and Messenger for Android. Designed by UC Berkeley “compassion researcher” Dacher Keltner, the downloadable Finch Sticker set lets friends send each other vivid emotions, not just emoticons.
The new Stickers feature which Facebook launched earlier this month lets people add big, cute illustrated icons to their chat conversations, similar to apps like Line and the most recent version of Path.
Facebook tells me, “Facebook messages help people connect with others everyday, and our goal is to help make those connections as rich as possible. Stickers are a fun, lightweight, and visual way of letting your friend know how you feel. So far, we’ve introduced stickers for Facebook for iOs and Messenger for Android. Soon you’ll be able to send stickers with Messenger for iOs and Facebook for Android too.”
Facebook first began working with Keltner, the co-director of University of California-Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Program, to bring better emotional understanding and compassion to Facebook’s abuse reporting flow. His goal was to help people use visual emotions to the peer resolution flow, which lets people sort out their own disagreements about embarrassing photo tags and bullying before Facebook steps in.
Now with illustrator Matt Jones and animator Sam Hood, Keltner is bringing Stickers to life. The Finch set moves and smiles at you. When you first send one of the moving emoticons, it will go through it’s animation once, and then again if you or your conversation partner taps on it.
Jones explained, “As an artist, it was an interesting challenge to try to improve upon what is already an iconic symbol — the emoticon. How do you re-design a circle? Arturo at Facebook and Dacher at Berkeley felt that the conventional emoticon didn’t communicate enough emotion. Once Dacher pointed me toward Darwin’s definitions of the emotional states, the expressions I drew became richer and more authentic. I turned to Sam to bring color and movement to my sketches and his interpretation of the emotions brought them to life. By applying classic animation principals, both in design and motion, we arrived at Finch — an appealing character who appears to think, emote, and communicate. We hope we have achieved the first step in redefining emoticons.”
A lot of people wonder why the tech world is going gaga over stickers. Well have you ever had a text messaged misinterpreted? You meant to be playful but it came off mean. Or you meant to be adorable but you just seemed creepy. Facial expressions and body language tip us off to people’s intentions when we’re face to face, but we’re in the dark when asynchronously messaging from a distance. Stickers and emoticons help us recreate those visual cues so people understand us, even when we’re far apart. Delivering that more authentic interaction is critical to your satisfaction with a messaging app, so expect more pre-drawn faces whenever you use a keyboard.