Emojis: frivolous or the future?

Published on August 13, 2015

Dubbed the ‘fastest growing form of language in history’ by Professor Vyv Evans of Bangor University in the UK, it’s time to start taking emojis seriously.

Enjoying proliferation at a significantly faster rate than its archaic counterpart, hieroglyphics, emojis have well and truly cemented their place in our lexicon.

But why is this? While you’ve been sending suspicious looking moons and smiling cats, you probably haven’t given much of a thought to the meaning they afford the text they accompany. As you add a smiling poop emoji to the end of an ambiguous sentence, it notifies the recipient that your message falls firmly into the light-hearted camp.

Emojis serve the purpose of adding the subtle nuances to our written language, in the way that your inflection naturally colours your tone when you speak. They provide an opportunity to exercize emotional intelligence by responding to social cues accordingly – a much more difficult feat when faced with text alone.

This is illustrated by Professor Evans’ findings that 72% of people feel emojis allow them to convey their feelings more easily than text. Research also shows that our brains are more stimulated when faced with an emoji. Apparently, emojis fire up our neurons in a similar way as when we speak to someone in person.

The expressive nature of emojis has secured their prevalence in our mobile exchanges, whether it’s via text or social media, emojis are everywhere. And now, as their growth and popularity continues to rise, emojis are beginning to occupy space across all spheres. So, here’s a list of the burgeoning uses for emojis that you might not yet have thought of:

1. Passwords
UK based company, Intelligent Environments, has announced plans to introduce passcodes made up of emojis. The greater range of characters (there are over 700 unique emojis) offers more choices and makes your password harder to breach.

Not only do they have the potential to be more secure, but they will also be easier to remember. The passwords we’ve been trained to use, where a word exists with substituted letters and alternating case like pAs5w0rd, are hard for humans to recall but easy for computers to crack. Cracking an emoji password will mean significantly more work for a computer.

Of course, there are sceptics, with some people haranguing the company for their naïve and overly simplistic attitude to the complex problem of mobile security and confidentiality. But it’s important to note some financial services already incorporate images in some way in their authentications, so is a variation on this such a foreign concept after all?

2. Marketing
It’s already been proven that using emojis can increase your standing on social media, with data showing the correlation between using emojis to enhance your post and the more power, or figurative Klout, you wield.

They are also a good way to get around the character count on Twitter. Emojis can help you convey emotions much more succinctly (or at least, in less characters) than words can, and they provide the opportunity to connect with your audience in a visual manner.

Brands have been capitalizing on this by using emojis across their social media channels to add colour to their posts, with Peta even using emojis to tell a story about animal cruelty via YouTube.

3. Links
We know that including emojis in your social updates will engage people, and now we can push this even further. Instead of surrounding the link you’re tweeting with emojis, you could just turn the link itself into a string of emojis.

Head over to linkmoji to try it for yourself. Who can resist the temptation of clicking on a bunch of emojis that will send you to an unknown website? Let’s find out:


4. Accessibility
Emojis are reportedly very popular among the Deaf community, which is unsurprising considering they are a community who rely heavily on visual language to communicate.

There have been calls for American Sign Language handshapes to be added to the emoji keyboard to enable the Deaf community to communicate in the way they do face-to-face, which is essentially what emojis have already been helping others to do.

5. Movies
Emojis are soon to make the transition from your small screen to the big screen, as Sony Pictures Animation beat out two other companies for the rights to an emoji-based movie.

Reportedly paying close to seven figures for the concept, Sony were determined to sign for the project as it comes free from usage rights, unlike other similar movies they’ve done, such as The Smurfs.

If that hasn’t convinced you that emojis need to be taken seriously, take a look at the people who are voting for the new emojis. The Unicode Consortium, who dictate what emojis are released and when, receive votes from members of UC Berkeley, Apple, IBM, Google and Yahoo. Whether or not emojis are a language in their own right, they undeniably help to make our written thoughts more complete and contextualized. By providing a simulacrum of the part of language that often gets lost in writing, emojis could be the key to a deeper and more congruent form of digital communication. And also to greater security, and marketing success…