By Janee Law
From television screens to keyboards, Half Hollow Hills East graduate Dylan Berkenfield has created a smartphone app that takes some of sport's most iconic moments and translates them into keyboard characters that can be shared via online and text message.
Berkenfield, of Dix Hills, founded the app -- dubbed Doji Keyboard -- last year with business partner Arthur Mansdach, whom he met at Cornell University.
The pair launched Doji last month with 30 depictions of iconic sports moments, including 10 basketball-related, 10 football-related, and 10 others involving tennis, soccer, golf and more.
Current Dojis include the NBA’s James Harden and his patented “stirring the pot” celebration, and shot-blocking phenom Dikembe Mutombo’s infamous finger wag.
The initial idea, Berkenfield said, came after he picked up on the ongoing trend of emojis, or emoticons, which are digital images or icons used to depict ideas and emotions via digital communication.
“Emojis have become an entirely new language within the past five to 10 years, especially with people 25 and younger,” Berkenfeld, 24, of Dix Hills, said. “They just want every possible way to express themselves as thoroughly and holistically as possible.”
Recognizing the trend, Berkenfeld said he wanted add sports into the mix. While generic sports emojis already exist, Berkenfeld and Mansdach instead sought a niche in the market by replicating one-of-a-kind moments in sports history and recruiting a designer to custom make them into emojis.
For example, Berkenfeld could send his friend a dollar-sign emoji if he owes that friend $10, or “now I can send them the Johnny Manziel Doji of him doing the money sign celebration and all my friends will see that and get a huge kick out of it.”
Berkenfeld, a 2010 Hills East grad, “It’s really just more of a fun way to text friends using emojis that we can all relate to and all identify with.”
The process to get the app up and running began last June after he pitched the idea to Mansdach, Berkenfeld said.
“We wanted to create 30 moments in sports across the sports landscape that not only were recognizable and what we deemed as cool, but also that would fit into different contexts,” Berkenfeld said.
Some of the other Dojis they created include Allen Iverson stepping over Tyronn Lue during the 2001 NBA finals; the Jose Bautista bat flip made famous during last year’s MLB playoffs; and NBA-superstar LeBron James’s iconic pregame powder toss.
The Doji Keyboard officially hit the Apple’s App Store in April, and was downloaded 990 times as of Monday.
Berkenfeld, who graduated from Cornell in 2014 with a degree in business strategy, said he and Mansdach continue to develop and release new dojis every week.
For Berkenfeld, the app is one step towards his dream of being an entrepreneur.
“I think that it’s a great foundation for me moving forward,” he said. “It has provided me with some experiences that I can take on to whatever future project I want to start. It’s given me the confidence that I can do it.”
The Doji Keyboard is available for download through the App Store or via Dojikeyboard.com.