GE and American Chemical Society Bring Science Emoji Closer to Reality


GE unicode emoji

The Unicode emoji subcommittee has chosen nine science-based emoji for the next round of new character candidates after a proposal from GE and the American Chemical Society lobbied for science emojis to be added to the keyboard.

The proposal was praised by Unicode emoji subcommittee member and founder of Emojicon, Jennifer Lee, as one of the best proposals she’s seen, and a model for future ones.

Nine of the emojis have made it to the next round: lab coat, test tube, microbe, petri dish, DNA, compass, abacus, fire extinguisher and goggles. Of the nine emoji deemed candidates for the next selection process, all or some of them could hit keyboards in summer 2018.

Why lobby for science emojis? For a start, it’s a counter-move against shallower emoji, inserting some substance into a lighthearted means of shorthand communications; and more importantly, it’s an investment in assuring that science stays relevant in everyday conversations.

As the GE and ACS proposal stated: “Science is global, and conversations about the method-driven enterprise are hardly confined to classrooms and laboratories. The Facebook page for science fan site ‘I Fucking Love Science‘ has more than 25 million followers. A search of the hashtag #science on Instagram returns nearly 4 million posts. Meanwhile, at nearly 4 PM Eastern on a Thursday, one week after the U.S. presidential election, some 100,000 people were talking about climate change on Facebook, according to the company’s search results.”

Part of the goal is raising awareness of STEM, including leveraging the interests and acumen of some of the world’s top scientists, researchers and engineers, GE teamed with Bill Nye (the Science Guy) in 2015 for the Emoji Science series.

Next, GE introduced its Emoji Table of Experiments, where Nye ran a pop-up experiment lab, using emoji from Snapchat fans and sending science experiment videos in return.

The positive response led to a five-part web series, #EmojiScience, covering topics like energy efficiency, mind mapping, materials science and Star Wars holograms as an example of light technology.

The company has also paid homage to famous female scientists and engineers by creating scimojis. In its ad that debuted during the recent Oscars telecast, GE imagined a life where female scientists—starting with engineer Millie Dresselhaus—were treated like celebrities.

Last year, GE also created its own Emoji Facebook Messenger Bot, named Dot, to challenge emoji ninjas to decode science terms and phrases expressed in emoji.