​Racially representative emoji coming in 2015


Ever feel that the smiley faces you use to punctuate texts do a fine job of representing your emotions, but fail to represent you? That may change soon, thanks to a proposed addition to the Unicode standards behind the digital visages.

In an update to its current guidelines dictating the way emoji are encoded and rendered onscreen, the Unicode Consortium said Monday that it will add five skin tone options for human emoji, beyond the default yellow.

"People all over the world want to have emoji that reflect more human diversity," the draft said. Using the Fitzpatrick skin type scale employed by dermatologists, Unicode programmers will create "modifiers" for emoji of people. The modifiers will represent the full range of the scale, from Fitzpatrick types I and II -- pale white to white skin -- to skin type VI -- deeply pigmented dark brown to black skin.

Once implemented, selecting a human emoji will bring up the option to modify the skin tone by choosing from color swatches of the five shades. The draft specified that the options will not be for "arbitrary emoji characters," and enumerated 151 human characters to which the modification can be applied. Among them: Father Christmas, Information Desk Person, Face Massage, Couple With Heart, Dancer, Nail Polish and Person Raising Both Hands in Celebration.

The consortium planned to release the Unicode 8.0 update in June or July 2015.