The AR Emoji service which Samsung touts as one of the main selling points of the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus is powered by Loom.ai, a San Francisco, California-based startup co-founded by Kiran Bhat, the winner of the 2017 Academy Award for Best Technical Achievement which he received due to his contribution to Hollywood blockbuster Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. While Samsung's mobile chief DJ Koh recently revealed the company has been pursuing the idea of implementing support for 3D digital avatars into its devices for many years now, it ultimately opted against an in-house solution and enlisted Loom.ai's help to bring AR Emoji to life.
The service is powered by the startup's embedded software development kit, with the implementation being specifically optimized to leverage the hardware of the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus. The technology allowed the South Korean original equipment manufacturer to support entirely customizable and personalized 3D avatars on its latest Android flagships, with the creations themselves being generated based on a single user photograph. Loom.ai says its solution takes advantage of a wide variety of high-end technologies including computer vision, facial recognition, deep learning, and visual effect generation that work together to allow users to immortalize themselves in the form of fully animated and unique digital avatars. The Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus don't feature any hardware that's been custom-built for Loom.ai's platform enabling AR Emoji as Samsung was able to design its latest Android lineup without any such constraints.
The American startup is hoping AR Emoji will attract content creators and advertisers to contribute to the platform, according to its co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Mahesh Ramasubramanian. The technology stack enabling the service hasn't been licensed to Samsung exclusively and is also available to other mobile OEMs interested in utilizing it. The Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus officially became available for pre-orders yesterday and are scheduled to be released on a global level come March 16. The pair of ultra-premium devices is expected to outsell all of its Android-powered competitors released in 2018 and is likely to help popularize both consumer-facing AI and AR technologies.