Microsoft has just announced a new feature called Puppets for SwiftKey, its third-party keyboard app for Android. The Puppets feature is now available in the latest Beta version of SwiftKey. This allows users to test this new feature and provide feedback to Microsoft to improve the offering before the final release. However, before that, let’s talk about what this feature really is. According to the official Microsoft blog post, this feature allows users to record themselves as a 3D panda, cat, or dog. Other animals available include an owl or a dinosaur.
The company uses its artificial intelligence-powered technology to record the head movements and expressions of the users. SwiftKey then mirrors these movements and expressions on these 3D animated animals in real-time. Deepak Paramanand, the product manager for SwiftKey issued a statement, “We wanted to give SwiftKey fans a fun way to communicate with their loved ones beyond pre-defined GIFs.” He further went on to add, “We created Puppets, a group of cute and furry friends that people can control just by being themselves. Choose one of five animals, record a message of fewer than 30 seconds and share it via one of the many popular communication apps supported by Android devices. It’s a fun way to stay in touch.”
Introducing Puppets – new in SwiftKey Beta for Android! Create and share videos of your own virtual puppets that mimic your facial expressions, head movements and voice. Which character is your favorite? https://t.co/gWZJ0Z81pI pic.twitter.com/8T3FRHLjsC
— SwiftKey (@SwiftKey) July 4, 2019
Microsoft SwiftKey Puppets: How it works?
Microsoft revealed that the smartphone does not need 3D depth sensing for the Puppets feature to work properly. Instead, it works with the help of a deep neural network. The company has trained this neural network with the help of thousands of images and videos from volunteers. Paramanand revealed that this feature was added to ensure that SwiftKey users have a fun and interesting way “to express themselves”.
According to the instructions in the announcement post, SwiftKey recommends using this feature “in a well-lit room”. It only works on Android right now, and it can only recognize one person at any given time. This new feature comes almost a year after Microsoft integrated a search engine and Translator in SwiftKey. This allowed users to instantly search for information without the need to leave the app and open a browser window. The built-in translator also made it easier for users to chat in different languages without leaving the app.