For those looking for something to celebrate this weekend, the world hasn’t really come through. Sure, maybe you can throw an off-the-wall unboxing party as your newly ordered toilet nightlight from Amazon Prime Day arrives.
But for the rest of us, things look a little less than celebratory. Something rather ominously called a “heat dome” is setting up to effect over 75 percent of the U.S. starting Sunday (July 17), and the only thing more tragic than the horrific news out of Nice yesterday is that writing about tragic events is becoming a standard part of any weekly synopsis of events.
But before concluding that Mudville is without joy — and decamping to sit under the sprinkler until going to work on Monday morning — we must remind you that this weekend you will have your chance to celebrate one of the signature inventions of the 21st century.
Which will be celebrated this weekend on July 17 on World Emoji Day.
Once known as the emoticon, the little symbols that started humbly as little happy or sad faces have exploded from there. Faces, people, occupations, celebrities, vegetables, animals, minerals, cartoons — there may not quite be an emoji for everything yet, but graphic designers the world over are apparently working around the clock to fix that problem.
And while emojis are certainly used for various silly purposes, various clinical psychologists have learned that they actually play a vital role in human communication.
As it turns out, people — particularly English speakers — have an extremely hard time detecting tone — particularly sarcasm — when they are reading language, as opposed to hearing it — particularly when they are reading email. Anyone who has ever seen a family Thanksgiving break down over an email where a joke was misread is intimately familiar with this problem. The emoji and the convenient visual clue it offers for the tone of a message have likely saved dozens of relationships between humans.
Which is probably why emojis are getting their own day of celebration.
But as we prepare to celebrate this weekend, two things occurred to us: 1) Emojis can — and are — being used for purposes other than making messages clearer; 2) We have some very good ideas about other things that could use their own custom emoji.
Making Life Less Awkward (For The English)
For beginners, emojis are pretty easy: If you’re happy, use a smiley face; sad, use a frowny; if you’re on Tinder, we don’t know, and we’re sure whatever emoji you’re about to use is probably a bad idea.
But as the world is ramping up to celebrate the emoji, the innovators of tomorrow are conceiving new and better ways that we as a people could be using them.
Or the Brits as a people can use them anyway. Barclays will be releasing a bunch of financial service-themed emojis for World Emoji Day to help English people talk about finances.
Which, as it turns out, they really, really don’t want to do if they can possibly avoid it. Despite the fact that London has a centuries-old reputation as a financial center, one-third of all U.K. citizens would rather eat a debt and receive no payment for it than ever have to talk to anyone they know about the debt or payment for it.
Which is why one of the new emojis coming out will symbolize “you owe me money,” while others will convey concepts such as “that is too expensive” or “can you loan me some money?” It’s almost as though something extremely unsettling just happened in Britain’s financial ecosystem that suddenly made it important that the English get over their aversion to discussing money with each other.
“Emojis are fast becoming one of the most common ways we communicate,” noted Vyv Evans, the father of the financial services emojis, at Bangor University in Wales.
”In fact, many find it easier to express their emotions through emojis and use emoticons to help them navigate trickier conversations. Talking about money is one of those taboo subjects which everybody finds a little difficult. The Barclays Mon-Emoji chains make those discussions a little less awkward.”
Domino’s pioneered ordering by emoji. Have the ability to send a text message with an emoji? You, too, can get a 16” with everything delivered in 30 minutes or less.
And, as it turns out, Emojis have uses far beyond making life less awkward for the English
A Better World (One Winky Face At A Time)
Sure ordering a pizza isn’t hard – but anyone who has ever been in a group where one had to be ordered has likely seen the complex game of “not it” adults will play when it comes to ordering a pizza. Everyone wants to eat pizza – calling an order it is another story.
So Dominoes has taken the conversation out of it. And sure – ordering online has the same minimal interaction outcome – but thre’s a lot of typing.
Or you can just send them a pizza Emoji
And speaking of retail applications – there is emerging talk that emojis, particularly customer ones could be used much teh way Snapchat uses geolocation filters today.
The technology is in place to have set emojis show up only when consumers are in a certain geofenced area, meaning that users could get access only when they go to a particular restaurant or store. This has potential to not only expand social sharing, but to drive foot traffic to a particular location.
And even if those highly practical uses for Emojis don’t do anything for you – we’ve left out the best one. Little kids imitating emoji on YouTube
You may wonder why that is a commerce miracle – to which we say click the link. See how many videos of that YouTube can get you to watch before you snap out of it – and how many commercials you watch while you wait to see more kids imitating emojis.
And emojis have more that a communication or commerce future – they may also be the next big thing in providing consumer security when logging into mobile banking. The UK technology firm Intelligent Environments has launched an emoji-only passcode system last year, to offer a customizable way to provide an added layer of security that has the benefit of being easy on consumers.
The theory is pretty simple – letters and numbers are subject to brute force attacks – especially since those letter and number combinations are usually pieces of information that are significant to the user. This gives hackers something of a leg up – with reasonable access to a targets social media generator and a random number generator, accounts can be forced open.
“Five years ago, it would have taken a day or so to break a five-digit password,” Knight says. “Now, they can do it in a few hours.” Erik Knight, a cyber security expert for 20 years and CEO of SimpleWan,
The beauty of an emoji based system is that the symbols customers chose are then translated into a blocks of numbers and letters on the backend – meaning consumer have something easy to use and remember – and the codes generated are long, complicated random and hard to force open.
Visually, it would be very easy for [people] to use,” Knight says. “From a brute-force standpoint, it’s a lot of characters [to decipher].”
And given the ongoing threat of brute force attacks – well emojis really could be the solution the world has been waiting for.
Emojis – sometimes silly, usually fun and easy to overlook.
But they might just be changing the way everyone interacts.