It sounds like something straight out of Back to the Future Part II, pending the filmmakers had the foresight to predict iPhones, emoji, video streaming services, websites, or the Internet. But not, you can scroll the web using only emoji.
The prototype search engine, called Emoji2Video, was created by a group of researchers at the University of Amsterdam and Qualcomm Research and allows users to click on a curated list of 385 emojis (there are more) which then matches with 45,000 YouTube videos (there are a lot more) and shows you your video of choice.
"It's a way to drill down very quickly to the very specific thing you're looking for," says Spencer Cappallo, a graduate student at the University of Amsterdam, reports Mashable. They go on to clarify how videos can be condensed into emoji: "About one out of every 50 frames was analyzed...and the emoji chosen to represent those are averaged to get one short emoji list, ordered in decreasing confidence."
So, if your favorite video involves a dude getting pelted in the groin by a football, you would likely type in an emoji of a man, followed by an emoji of a football. Because, apparently, nobody knows how to use words anymore, and the future of communication lies in facial expressions and accompanying graphics to express thought. Basically, we're cavemen with high-tech phones.
Still, it sounds like a hell of a job going through all of those videos to find their coordinating emoji...or does it?
As far as the mechanics of searching for videos with emoji, it's definitely something you have to master, and will probably get easier if YouTube picks up on Emoji2Video. Like, what's the emoji equivalent of the 24-hour Nyan cat video? 24 cats? Because an emoji cat is far different than a Nyan cat.
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Jeremy Glass is a News Writer for Thrillist and has a Pop Tart body.