The USPTO has just published a patent application that Apple filed back in February, according to a story in SlashGear. Titled Voice Effects Based on Facial Expressions, the patent relates to technology that would allow an iPhone user to bark while using the Animoji feature, and have a real dog bark come out of the speaker instead. That is but one of three different options shown in a diagram from the application (which you can view at the top of this article).
Based on the diagram, one feature of the technology would capture video of the user's face and any audio, and the result would be played as a virtual avatar. Essentially, this is what Animoji are all about right now. In the second part of the diagram, the user's facial movements are captured on video along with audio. In this case, the screen would show the virtual avatar mimicking the facial movements with synced audio coming out of the speaker with a special effect related to the avatar.
The third part of the diagram shows the user once again having his facial movements captured, but this time he says something from a list of pre-set options. In the example, the user barks like a dog. On the display, it shows the user's virtual avatar while the speaker plays real barks from a dog. The patent application also covers the possibility of the technology translating certain facial expressions made by the user, into words.
We are never sure if a patent application, or even a newly granted patent, will end up being used in a future product. However, we can see that Apple is giving serious thought (after all, filing patents costs money) to the future of Animoji.