Who's to blame for Samsung's lackluster AR Emoji? You and your short attention span

Who's to blame for Samsung's lackluster AR Emoji? You and your short attention span
If you've had the chance to check out the Galaxy S9/S9+ and took the AR Emoji feature of the selfie camera for a spin, there's quite the chance that you were left disappointed by its often jittery and sometimes super-stiff take on Apple's Animoji. And if you are any thing like us, you probably flinched when you saw the overly-simplified virtual avatar that your phone created for you. All in all, AR Emoji feels like a beta version at this point, though it clearly isn't.

Turns out the real reason why Samsung's AR Emoji are a bit disappointing, especially when compared to the better-polished Animoji, is nothing else but the average consumer's overly-short attention span. Seriously. 

Let's break this bold statement down to its crude ingredients.

Turns out that Samsung didn't develop AR Emoji on its own, no. The tech giant outsourced the crude technology behind this feature from Loom.ai, a tech company co-founded by CGI veteran and Oscar-winner Kiran Bhat, who developed Industrial Light & Magic's VFX facial expression-capture technology that was used in ultra-popular flicks like The Avengers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Warcraft, Star Wars: Episode VII, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The near-life like CGI appearance of Hulk, Davy Jones, and Grand Moff Tarkin in the respective movies can be directly traced back to Mr Bhat and his Oscar-winning labor. As you might imagine, such accurate CGI requires extensive computational resources; remember that for later.

After conquering the CGI summits at Hollywood, Kiran Bhat co-created Loom.ai along with Mahesh Ramasubramanian. The main goal of Loom.ai is inherently simple and can be summarized with a single sentence: helping regular Joes carve their own super-accurate virtual avatar from a simple selfie without taking hours upon hours to render a short video. 

"We've simplified it into a single photograph," said Bhat. However,  "people's attention span is low. People lose it after 5 seconds," Bhat added. 

Loom.ai's current software is capable of creating super-realistic virtual avatars from a regular selfie, but it is reportedly taking it an average of 7 minutes or more to complete the task at hand, which has been obviously shot down by Samsung as an unacceptable and impractically-long amount of time.

As the tech giant was given the framework, it was now calling the shots and decided that people would prefer speed in favor of better-looking avatars, which is a polarizing decision that we many wouldn't necessarily agree with. Loom.ai's co-founder said that AR Emoji "use a 2D tracker provided from Samsung on how the face moves, which is what gets fed into the SDK," as Kiran Bhat points out. Sure, speed is crucial, but we suppose that users could have been given the option to select a basic or a more advanced avatar upon tapping the "Create My Emoji" button. And this is where the "gotcha" comes in: provided that the software was allowed to do its computational magic for longer, AR Emoji would have certainly turned out way better and more life-like than the AR Emoji available as a dedicated camera mode for your selfie snapper. Speed is crucial, and Samsung chose that in favor of producing super-realistic virtual avatars. 

In addition, unlike the iPhone X, which uses a plethora of sensors to scan the user's face and create a detailed 3D map of the user's face, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are only capable of two-dimensional scans, which severely limits the accuracy and is a big reason why AR Emoji looks so unimpressive.

Fortunately, there's always room for improvement: Samsung deciding on how to use Loom.ai's framework means that future AR Emoji can technically be way more superior provided that Samsung decides it's worth it. Here's to hoping. Aside from throwing additional depth sensors at the front of a future Galaxy device, the framework's algorithms could be further optimized so as to produce better-looking avatars. So, it's almost a given that the second generation of AR Emoji will probably be much better than its precursor.

"The exact timing is up to Samsung," said Mahesh Ramasubramanian, Loom.ai's CEO, "But it is something you will see evolve."

Oh, and in case you're wondering what Loom.ai's tech is ultimately capable of given enough time, check out Elon Musk's virtual avatar down below. Implying it's created from a simple two-dimensional photo, it's as accurate as they come. You can also check out all the personalized avatars of the Loom.ai team right here.


source: CNET 



1. RevolutionA

Posts: 399; Member since: Sep 30, 2017

Shame on you Sammy to copy such a great feature. It's clearly an Apple thing and no one can do better than pros. I totally agree with phonearena on this. All because of those sammy users, it's a disgrace to AR emoji.

3. tedkord

Posts: 17417; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Great feature, yeah. Stupid feature. Shame on them for devoting a single dollar on such a gimmick.

7. bucknassty

Posts: 1353; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

they should have spent 2 dollars on it

31. sgodsell

Posts: 7454; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

If Apples animoji is so great, then why does it only give you 10 seconds of recording. Yet Samsung's solution gives you a lot longer than 10 seconds. In any case when RevolutionA said that "It's clearly an Apple thing and no one can do better than pros.". So animoji is a pro thing now, is it? They are both gimmicks at best. But saying one does better than the other is clearly stupid.

10. lyndon420

Posts: 6834; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Gotta keep the kids entertained though right? It's not like they have Lego or playgrounds anymore.

15. adecvat

Posts: 647; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

Devoting a single dollar? You need to pay to buy need AR-emoji. You buy 700$ phone and pay again for new AR-emoji.

34. iushnt

Posts: 3124; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

Didn’t you get his point? Someone has to pay loom.ai? Who might that be?

29. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

Now beacam a gimmick cause Samsung can do it lol.

6. bucknassty

Posts: 1353; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

idk about not being able to do it better than the "pros" but ARmoji has terrible tracking... the gif part is kinda cool, needs more options though... and more options for customization as well. if Bitmoji can do it why not you samsung?

2. Kuroki

Posts: 183; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

Samsung's just adding these so called "features" because apple have them. Whenever Apple introduces something new(useless or useful) Samsung always makes sure they have a crappy, half-baked version of that. Apple music=Milk Music Siri=S-voice(Now Bixby) iMessage=Samsung ChatOn AppStore=Galaxy Apps Animoji=Ar Emoji so on and so forth... they even copied the Icon style of the iphone When they released the original galaxy

4. tedkord

Posts: 17417; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

And vice versa. The simple fact is Apple has done more copying than anyone in the smartphone market the past 6 years. By quite a bit.

8. Kuroki

Posts: 183; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

Apple copied features from android, not samsung.

11. AVVA1

Posts: 228; Member since: Aug 01, 2017

Copying isnt bad as long as it improves upon the tech it copied from. Both iOS and Android made varying levels of copying it's not just one OS has done more than the other. Let's stop being extremist about either OSes.

14. TerryD

Posts: 554; Member since: May 09, 2017

Dont forget the stupid f**king notch

20. gigicoaste

Posts: 457; Member since: Feb 21, 2016

It's called trend! No matter who is doing it, if sony comes with an idea or apple or samsung. If the market shows that exist intrest, will be adopted. Sure, so far in apple products looks the best, does not mean that other companies should stop trying. More companies, more options for consumer, pretty simple. The whole "debate" it's a nonsense. Tell me, if Vauxhall came with the first sport car, should be the only company on the market? The list ca go on and on.

35. iushnt

Posts: 3124; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

Milk Music was much older than Apple Music if you didn’t know. And Apple also copies from Samsung and Android too.

5. hansip87

Posts: 228; Member since: Nov 10, 2015

Funny that Sony can actually scan 3d face with 3d creator app using just a standard single camera (turns out the ToF sensor doesn't even help here, because front cam can do it too nicely) and the depth of the scan is quite impressive for such setup. Why can't Samsung implement that?

9. Junito

Posts: 145; Member since: Feb 12, 2012

Samsung Pay is unique, is it Not? :)

30. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

Funny thing Samsung pay and Apple Pay using same exact banks.

12. sissy246

Posts: 7124; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

So what, I hope they all keep coping each other. Better for us as consumers.

25. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

Wow people with brains on PA? Is it possible??

13. Sammy_DEVIL737

Posts: 1529; Member since: Nov 28, 2016

I still don’t get why Samsung implemented this feature.

16. cmdacos

Posts: 4267; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Enjoy it alot actually. Interesting to see how it renders rewinds and family. Some very close and others not so much. The finer details it captures is quite impressive. Not without flaws for a first gen attampt but hopefully improves. Certainly better than talking poop.

17. Stayfly2407

Posts: 80; Member since: Dec 15, 2011

I just went to bestbuy made the emojis on the s9+, sent them to myself and saved them in my iPhone camera roll lol now I have the custom animated gif emojis of me while keeping my iPhone X

18. cmdacos

Posts: 4267; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Great, you took a small portion of what ARemoji are about. Congrats.

21. Godlymansean

Posts: 337; Member since: Apr 14, 2017

I mean they're not terrible, but would be nice if they added an option for a more in depth face capture option.

23. gamehead unregistered

Lame animoji

27. Tipus

Posts: 894; Member since: Sep 30, 2016

Stupid, unnecessary gimmick

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