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Did Samsung get the AR Emoji idea from Apple?

On the left is Samsung's AR Emoji, and on the right –  Apple's Animoji. Same goal, different execution
On the left is Samsung's AR Emoji, and on the right –  Apple's Animoji. Same goal, different execution

On February 25 in Barcelona, Samsung announced it's newest flagships – the Galaxy S9 and S9+. We found out that this year's improvements in the Galaxy series will be mainly in the camera, adding variable aperture on both models, while the S9+ also runs a dual-camera setup.

We will also get another interesting feature in the face of AR Emoji, which will create a virtual avatar after scanning you for a couple of seconds so using the front-facing camera. However, the new addition was almost immediately deemed a copy of rival Apple's Animoji feature. Did Samsung indeed steal the idea from its biggest opponent on the smartphone market? The short answer is no.

The long answer, however, is a bit more interesting. Samsung Mobile president DJ Koh said AR Emoji is a feature his company has been working on implementing for years, and is definitely not a copycat of Apple's Animoji. “Their [Apple's] approach and my approach is totally different. [...] I do work seriously based off my own roadmap”, Mr. Koh said in an interview at MWC 2018. He also mentioned that developing 3D human-like avatars is not a one day task and he had set sights on the feature since as early as 2001, while he lead Samsung's mobile research and development team in the UK.

Comparing the two avatar-based features, Samsung's AR Emoji is quite different from Apple's Animoji. AR Emoji creates a digital avatar by scanning your face using the front-facing camera, which you can then use in a set of GIF stickers or record a video. You can then send out the created media using any messaging app, like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, which the receiver can see regardless of their device. Oh, and also, if you don't like your looks, you can become a unicorn or Mickey Mouse in just a swipe and use that avatar instead.

On the other hand, Apple's Animoji offer you a set of 3D emojis, for example a dragon, a bear, and more, which mimic your facial expressions and use your voice if you decide to say something. You can record videos using the feature and you can share your expressions as a pile-of-poo everywhere you wish.

Samsung might have the upper hand in terms of the flexibility of its AR Emoji, but Apple may be winning the technology aspect, as its Animoji is more accurate due to the TrueDepth sensor.

Overall, 3D avatars might be the next big thing, as it seems more and more companies have started implementing features to allow the creation of a digital alter-ego. Asus has to be the most recent company to embrace the 3D avatars. The Taiwanese company will include Zenimoji in its ZenFone 5 (2018), which was announced at MWC 2018. The Zenimoji will work like the Animoji, but will also let you livestream the experience. 

Asus' Zenimoji feature promises to bring the option to livestream the experience

source: WSJ

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