THE PERFECT GIF is a difficult thing to find. In an Internet rife with search options, there are a seemingly infinite number of options. But choosing a GIF that animates exactly what you want it to? More difficult. But a new web app called Giftawk will quite literally translate your requests into GIF form.
The browser-based app simply needs access to your microphone, and then asks you to speak into it. Say anything you want, and boom—it services up a GIF or GIFs that act out your speech. (For the record, my own GIF maker turned these GIFs into weird pop art—they don’t actually look like that.)
Things get more complicated, though, when you try full sentences. Developer Adam Lusted created the Chrome web app uses Chrome’s speech recognition API. “I then split the phrase up and fetched relevant GIFs for each word from the Giphy API,” he says. “It was relatively easy to make. I was unsure how well it would work because the speech recognition API is a bleeding edge technology.”
While Giftawk is one of the first speech-to-GIF translators, it isn’t the only app trying to link language and animated images. Last year, the MIT Media Lab introduced GIFGIF, a multi-purpose GIF service that offers a variety of ways to take common human communication and turn it into GIFs. There’s Text to GIF (type something in, get a GIF out) and Face to GIF (the camera uses facial analysis to register a GIF). In addition to being objectively fun, GIFGIF wanted to use the data it received to help assign emotional assessment to GIFs, furthering how we might unilaterally understand them (or not).
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