Yesterday the US Patent & Trademark Office published a pair of patent applications from Apple that revealed their intent to reinvent the whole notion of what emoticons should be in the future and how we should use them in our texting and emails. Apple describes a customizing process utilizing a Photo Booth-like engine that not only will create advanced cartoony characters but also very detailed 3D avatar variants of a user that are staggeringly realistic. Apple now has eight avatar related patents to their credit, with most of them having been published in the last eighteen months. We now recognize this as an official Apple trend and have created a new archive titled "Avatars + Virtual" to make it easier for you to research in the future. After reading our report, I think that you'll understand why one technology leader thinks that 3D Avatars could play a role in changing the way that we'll all communicate in the future – and I think he's right.