Uncanny Valley

by Darius Kazemi on December 5, 2005

in Uncategorized

Excellent article in Wired about the Xbox 360 and the “Uncanny Valley” effect. *cough* Not that I told everyone this would happen with the 360. *cough*

This paradoxical effect has a name: the “Uncanny Valley.” The concept comes from the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori, who argued that simulacra of humans seem lively and convincing so long as they’re relatively low-resolution. Think of history’s best comic strips: With only a few quick sketches on a page, Bill Watterson can create vivid emotions for the characters in Calvin and Hobbes. When an avatar is cartoonish, our brains fill in the gaps in the presentation to help them seem real.

But when human avatars approach photoreality? Something weird happens. Our brains rebel, and we begin focusing on the tiny details that aren’t quite perfect. The realism of our avatars suddenly plunges downward into a valley — and they begin to look like zombies. [Wired News: Monsters of Photorealism]

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