Startups

Mirror Launches AI-Enabled Emoji Keyboard After Raising $3.5M From Durant, Thiel, & Softbank, Among Others

After raising $3.5 million from investors, including NBA star Kevin Durant and Peter Thiel, Mirror’s facial recognition emojis are coming to iOS and Android.

Mirror, the San Francisco-based startup behind “the world’s most personal emoji keyboard,” is set to launch in beta. Its Mirror Emoji Keyboard app uses facial recognition by scanning selfies to allow users to instantly create custom emoji.

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The launch comes on the heels of Apple’s similar Animoji launch, making 2017 the year of the AI emoji craze.

“We are excited to launch the beta version of Mirror Emoji Keyboard – this is the culmination of a year’s worth of work from our dedicated and experienced engineering team and is only the beginning,” said Serge Faguet, CEO and co-founder of Mirror, according to its release.

Mirror was founded by Serge Faguet and co-founder Evgeny Kuryshev earlier this year. The startup says it’s currently valued at $30 million after receiving $3.5 million in investments within three months of being founded. Investors include SoftBank Group, Greylock Ventures, SV Angel, Peter Thiel, Y Combinator, I2BF, Data Collective, Peter Diamandis, Kevin Durant, and others.

Topher Conway, co-managing partner of SV Angel, commented on the launch:

“Emoji are used trillions of times a year, and Mirror’s technology makes them more personalized and social than any apps currently available,” he said. “We’re glad to be investors of Mirror and are thrilled to see how the product evolves in beta and beyond.”

Mirror’s team of AI engineers developed a large set of algorithms and techniques that capture users’ physical qualities, according to the company. The number of generated emoji is set to pass 10,000 scenarios, and mirror plans to add AI emoji for groups and pets in the future.

“An entire section of our brain is dedicated to human facial perception which is an incredibly hard problem for artificial intelligence approaches to solve and we are just starting to scratch the surface of the possibilities,” explained Mirror’s CTO and co-founder Kuryshev. “We are fortunate to have some of the top engineers in this field, which allows us to relentlessly work to improve this technology. A decade from now, Mirror aims to deploy our technology and usage data for complex tasks from powering virtual reality characters to advertising personalized to viewers’ faces.”

Faguet and Kuryshev established the company with the help of fifteen engineers, with the team working on the Mirror Emoji Keyboard for the past year.

And what’s an emoji without shareability? The app will be compatible with Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and iMessage, among other clients, to allow users to send and receive the custom emoji. Mirror will also be available in several languages, including English, Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese, German, Portuguese and Japanese, and expanding to additional languages in 2018.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias