It looks like Samsung had bigger plans for AR Emoji.

The company recently launched AR Emoji with its latest devices. Initially, everyone figured Samsung was just copying Apple's Animoji. But even Apple sort of lifted the idea from Snapchat, which has long offered AR lenses. Now, however, it appears as though Samsung was actually first. In 2013, it applied for a patent that would let you video chat with another person using a 3D model of your face.

As spotted by PatentlyMobile, the just-granted patent described the following: “Existing video communication systems typically require high bandwidth and are inherently high latency as entire image sequences need to be generated and compressed before transmitting the signal to the another device.” In other words, Samsung predicted there'd be bandwidth issues with live video in the near future.

It also noticed people don't make eye contact while video chatting because the camera isn’t mounted directly in a phone's display. So, the company noted, “A need exists for a visual communication system capable of displaying the user’s actual likeness, facial expressions, and motion in real time, while reducing bandwidth.” Enter: AR Emoji. With them, you'd look at avatars instead of another person directly.

The USPTO just granted Samsung's patent, even though Samsung formulated the idea five years ago. Its system is based on future Galaxy smartphones with a 3D cameras, and it essentially detailed a type of communication made between advanced 3D avatars. Currently, with AR Emoji, Samsung lets you create an avatar based on a photo of yourself, which you can then send as images and GIFs.

You can't yet use AR Emoji for video chat, but that could change.