A new website has introduced the emoji as an actual way to search for YouTube videos. The site, Emoji2Video, is able to search through 46,000 videos, all labeled with various emojis that describe the video. The user just selects whichever emoji she likes and the site populates with related content.
The site utilizes the emoji, according to a paper on the tool released by the University of Amsterdam. As coauthor Spencer Cappallo told MIT Technology Review, “it’s a way to drill down very quickly to the very specific thing you’re looking for.”
You may not know exactly what alien video you want to watch, but a quick search for 👽 will bring you the clips you want.
In addition, Emoji2Video has the potential of bridging language gaps, says linguist Tyler Schnoebelen. The visual representation transcends writing, so anybody could theoretically use the site to find what they want. Further, “The meaning of an emoji is more than just the noun that it visualizes,” he says, so Emoji2Video could reveal that searching for 🍆 may bring you more than just the greatest eggplant videos.
I looked for two pretty disparate topics to really test the site’s capabilities. I clicked 🐉 followed by 🌵, which brought me to a machine seemingly crushing up rocks into sand. Remarkably, I was just the sixth viewer!
A more related search of 🍸, ✈, ☀ did bring me to a nice 30-second clip of a beautiful stainless steel mixer set — and a $19.25 on my dad’s credit card.
For now, Emoji2Video has its bugs. There’s no “Justin Bieber” emoji (yet), so more direct searches are probably best left to YouTube itself. Still, it is an interesting concept to attempt to eliminate language when using a visual medium. Additionally, as the paper states, emojis are compatible with mobile devices, making the emoji-search an even likelier reality.
“Emoji2Video allows us to leverage the increasingly familiar emoji ideograms to provide an interface for quickly exploring video datasets in a form that can be used on smart watches, smart phones, and by users of any language, age, or culture.”
Until it’s even more universally accepted, it’s still fun to play the YouTube roulette wheel and see what 🐶 + 🎅 pulls up.