Friday, 2 December 2011

The Uncanny Valley

The uncanny valley is a theory used in the field of robotics and 3D computer animation. The notion of the uncanny valley is that human replicas or humanoids that mimic humans almost but not perfectly cause revulsion among observers.

The Uncanny Valley graph

The Uncanny Valley was first proposed by Japanese Roboticist Mashiro Mori which he elaborated from Sigmund Freud's 1919 essay entitled 'The Uncanny'.  In his original hypothesis Mori stated that as the appearance of a robot is made more human, a human observer's emotional response to the robot will become increasingly positive until a point is reached where the robot is near perfect. When it reaches this stage the human response quickly becomes  that of a strong revulsion. However as it becomes less identifiable and bears less distinguishing features than that of a human, the emotional response becomes a positive one again. On the graph demonstrating Mori's notion (above) this creates a valley which is where the term comes from.

Two Japanese robots. As robot B is moe identifiable as a human the revulsion by the observer will be greater than that of A.

The uncanny valley has been adopted not just in robotics but in CG arts and film making also as the hypothesis is not just relevant in robotics but in any sub human or humanoid characters also  e.g. waxworks, zombies and dolls. Because of the human's response to that which mimics a human the uncanny valley has been adopted in horror films frequently. 

A. The evil ventriloquist doll from the horror film 'Magic'
 B. Infected zombie from British cult horror '28 Days Later'
C. Frightening waxwork from 'House of Wax'

The uncanny valley will be beneficial to this unit as it acknowledges human responses to things on a subconscious level.

1 comment:

  1. Very well put! I completely forgot about waxwork sculptures. That last timage of the granny looks particularly disturbing. o_o;

    Overall a great summary of the Uncanny Valley. I can't wait to see what you come up with further on in this course!