Microsoft adds new AI-based 3D animal emojis to its SwiftKey keyboard

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SwiftKey, the Microsoft-owned popular mobile keyboard app, is getting a brand-new 3D animated emoji feature called Puppets.

The new feature will allow users to create a virtual character that replicates their facial expressions and head movements. This feature works similar to how Animoji does on iPhones.

There are five animal characters available as Puppets, namely Panda, Cat, Owl, Dinosaur, and Dog within the latest beta version of SwiftKey. These can be shared widely on almost every messaging app that has video sharing capability.

“People want to type fast, and SwiftKey is perfect for that,” said Deepak Paramanand, Product Manager at Microsoft. “They also want to express themselves in a fun and interesting way, and now SwiftKey is perfect for that too.”

SwiftKey has leveraged artificial intelligence (AI) to mimic a person’s facial expressions inside a 3D animal emoji. To identify facial expressions and transfer into an expressive animal character, the company had trained its Puppets’ algorithm using thousands of volunteers from all over the world.

The best part is that SwiftKey’s Puppets will be working on all the android devices and wouldn’t need any special hardware.

“SwiftKey worked with the Microsoft Computer Vision and Microsoft Research Asia teams to bring Puppets to life. Unlike other facial tracking software, SwiftKey’s Puppets does not rely on users having a device with an inbuilt depth sensor in their camera and instead uses an RGB camera found in most Android smartphones. This means that more people than ever before with a wide range of smartphones will be able to share messages as a friendly character,” said SwiftKey in a blog post.

An early access to beta APK is available for users to try and test, before the feature is released.

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