Newsletters
News & Information for Technology Purchasers NewsFactor Sites:       NewsFactor.com     Enterprise Security Today     CRM Daily     Business Report     Sci-Tech Today  
   
This ad will display for the next 20 seconds. Click for more information, or
Home Enterprise I.T. Cloud Computing Applications Hardware More Topics...
World Wide Web
DDoS Protection Powered By Verisign
Average Rating:
Rate this article:  
Have We Crossed 'Uncanny Valley' Into Human Animation?

Have We Crossed 'Uncanny Valley' Into Human Animation?
By Barry Levine

Share
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Share on Google Plus

Activision said the photo-realistic character in the video is being rendered in real-time on current video card hardware, using standard bone animation. In addition to the character in the clip, Activision's Jorge Jimenez also shows on his blog human-looking still images of head shots and details of an old man, a young woman in the military, and others.
 



For years, experts have been telling us that, someday, virtual characters will be created that are indistinguishable from real people, potentially opening entire new arenas for movies, customer service, training and education, among other applications. A new demonstration from video game company Activision Blizzard suggests that the day may have arrived.

On Wednesday, Activision presented photo-realistic character animation at the 2013 Game Developers Conference, taking place this week in San Francisco. While artificial characters have steadily been making tremendous progress toward indistinguishability over the last several decades, there has always been a bit of a gulf keeping those creations from humanness. In 1970, Japanese robot expert Masahiro Mori described an "uncanny valley" where robots, or generated characters, get close enough to being human but not quite there.

He said that the almost-ness results in an uncomfortable weirdness, a kind of disgust, which could be applied to, say, the Angelina Jolie character in the movie Beowulf or the Tom Hanks character in the movie Polar Express. On the other side of the valley, the artificial creation is, to all extents and purposes, perceived as being real. Now, the valley may have been crossed.

Next Generation Life

The character in question was presented at the Conference by Activision Blizzard's Jorge Jimenez, in a talk called Next-Generation Character Rendering. In an account on his blog, he wrote Wednesday that the result is a "next generation life" for realistic animated characters, including ones that are rendered in real-time.

The key character being shown is an unnamed male, perhaps in his thirties, with a shaved head. He talks a few lines, smiles and shows eye wrinkles, and has the look in his eyes of a human looking out. The subtle skin imperfections, light stubble showing on a shaven face, expressions and mouth movements all indicate it is an actual human who, at times in the clip, is acting a bit woodenly as he moves between highly realistic takes. When he is in the take, his expressive behavior seems to hit humanness exactly. On the Web, comments have pointed to the teeth, when the character smiles, as striking the only false note.

Activision said the character in the video is being rendered in real-time on current video card hardware, using standard bone animation. In addition to the character in the clip, Jimenez also shows on his blog human-looking still images of head shots and details of an old man, a young woman in the military, and others.

Ads, Demos, Customer Service

The business and personal applications for truly indistinguishable, generated artificial humans could be substantial. Andrew Frank, research director for media and marketing at Gartner, noted that "we've been hearing about this coming for quite a while." He said that, if the uncanny valley has actually been crossed into verisimilitude, there could be applications in "advertising, product demos, education, and anything that requires an interpersonal relationship, such as customer service."

There will have to be broad acceptance that the uncanny valley has actually been crossed, or an extensive use of not-quite-there artificial humans could backfire. When Pixar showed an early computer animated film called Tin Toy to audiences in 1988, for instance, the baby character, even though primitive by today's standards, was realistic enough to be creepy. For years afterwards, Pixar chose to concentrate instead on non-human characters, such as toys, robots and cars, in order to avoid the issue. As one psychologist has told news media, "we have to nail the human form or not even go there."
 

Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:



Salesforce.com is the market and technology leader in Software-as-a-Service. Its award-winning CRM solution helps 82,400 customers worldwide manage and share business information over the Internet. Experience CRM success. Click here for a FREE 30-day trial.


 World Wide Web
1.   Twitter May Remove Pics of Deceased
2.   Google IPO Began Decade of Big Bets
3.   Assange Talks of Leaving Embassy
4.   Russian Hacker To Be Held Until Trial
5.   Online Sites vs. Retailing in India


advertisement
Product Information and Resources for Technology You Can Use To Boost Your Business

Network Security Spotlight
Researchers Find Malicious Android Apps Can Hack Gmail
A new study shows that a weakness in the Android mobile operating system can be used to steal sensitive, personal info from unwitting users. Gmail proved to be the easiest app to attack; Amazon, the hardest.
 
UPS Stores in 24 States Hit by Data Breach
Big Brown has been breached. UPS said that about 105,000 customer transactions at 51 of its UPS Store locations in 24 states could have been compromised between January and August.
 
Cost of Target Data Breach: $148 Million Plus Loss of Trust
The now infamous Target data breach is still costing the company -- and its shareholders -- plenty. In fact, the retailing giant forecast the December 2013 incident cost shareholders $148 million.
 

Enterprise Hardware Spotlight
Acer's New Desktop Box Rides the Chrome OS Wave
Filling out its Chrome OS line, Acer is following the introduction of a larger Chromebook line earlier this month with a new tiny $180 desktop Chromebox and also a smaller Chromebook.
 
Feds OK $2.3 Billion IBM-Lenovo x86 Server Deal
IBM and Lenovo are celebrating U.S. approval of their x86-based server deal, having cleared some major security hurdles. The deal makes Lenovo a major player for enterprise data centers.
 
Three New Lenovo PCs Aimed at Business Users
With businesses wanting computing solutions that do more for less money, Lenovo has unveiled three new desktop PCs that it says offer solid computing at a budget-minded price.
 

Mobile Technology Spotlight
Screen Shortage Briefly Puts Brakes on iPhone 6
RAM? Check. Antenna switch? Check. Screen? Oops. Parts suppliers for Apple have found themselves facing a shortage of screens for the new iPhone 6 as next month's release date for the new smartphone looms.
 
Bounty Offered to Coders for Oculus Rift Bugs
Coders who find bugs in software for the Oculus Rift VR immersive headset could receive a reward of at least $500 under Facebook's White Hat bounty program. Facebook acquired Oculus in March.
 
Google Glass Adds Voice Access to Phone Contacts
The latest update to Google Glass will let users access their top 20 phone contacts with voice commands alone. A user can then choose a phone call, Google hangouts, e-mail or text messaging.
 

Navigation
NewsFactor Network
Home/Top News | Enterprise I.T. | Cloud Computing | Applications | Hardware | Mobile Tech | Big Data | Communications
World Wide Web | Network Security | Data Storage | CRM Systems | Microsoft/Windows | Apple/Mac | Linux/Open Source | Personal Tech
Press Releases
NewsFactor Network Enterprise I.T. Sites
NewsFactor Technology News | Enterprise Security Today | CRM Daily

NewsFactor Business and Innovation Sites
Sci-Tech Today | NewsFactor Business Report

NewsFactor Services
FreeNewsFeed | Free Newsletters

About NewsFactor Network | How To Contact Us | Article Reprints | Careers @ NewsFactor | Services for PR Pros | Top Tech Wire | How To Advertise

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
© Copyright 2000-2014 NewsFactor Network. All rights reserved. Article rating technology by Blogowogo. Member of Accuserve Ad Network.