Google Gboard Uses AI Machine Learning To Turn Your Selfies Into Unique Cartoon Stickers

Gboard Mini
Scientists and researchers have found all sorts of ways to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies—everything from predicting when a person will die based on brain scans to beating up on seasoned Dota 2 veterans in a livestream on Twitch. Aligning a little more closely with the latter category, Google is using AI to turn selfiles into personal stickers as part of its Gboard update.

Gboard, in case you are not familiar, is an amped up version of the Google Keyboard.

"Gboard has everything you love about Google Keyboard—speed and reliability, Glide Typing, voice typing, and more—plus Google Search built in. No more app switching; just search and share, right from your keyboard," Google explains.
What's new is the integration of Minis. This was originally an exclusive feature for the Allo smart messaging application, which also leverages AI. It was one of the ways Google sought to make Allo stand out in what is now a crowded field of chat apps. Now it is available in Gboard for both Android and iOS devices.

So how does machine learning factor into sticker creation? As explained in a blog post last year, the sticker creation system uses a combination of neural networks and the work of artists to turn selfies into personalized sticker packs.

"Reconciling how the computer perceives you with how you perceive yourself and what you want to project is truly an artistic exercise. This makes a customization feature that includes different hairstyles, skin tones, and nose shapes, essential. After all, illustration by its very nature can be subjective. Aesthetics are defined by race, culture, and class which can lead to creating zones of exclusion without consciously trying," Google explained at the time.

This is where the AI training comes into play. The result is that the generated sticker packs more closely resemble the person taking the selfie, at least in theory. In practice? It could use a little work. That said, you can customize your sticker representation after Gboard does its thing. If nothing else, this is better than using a generic set of stickers.