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What is the Uncanny Valley - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Back in 1995, Pixar was the first company to use computer animation techniques in a feature film. Since then, they have been constantly refining their methods into amazing creations - right down to all the hair care programs. With all these advances, there is no media company that does not respond to the medium to some extent.

We have the ability to create lifelike characters. But even big powerhouses like Pixar remain within the picture? The answer is the subject of this post.


The Uncanny Valley is a theory that originated from Masahiro Mori, a Japanese roboticist who worked on robotics and automation.

He came up with the idea in 1970 when he noticed that there is a positive correlation between the way people grow up to be more connected and the interaction of artificial people in which they are more visible.

But when these artificial people came to look almost perfect, there was a great decline in our cooperation and compassion for them. Our first reaction may be to see them as people, but we quickly see the difference. This is what causes the discrepancy between the reality of the artificial person and our expectation of the real human form.

For example, when we look at an industrial robot that looks like a human, we feel that there is no connection with it. But when we interact with a cute baby toy that looks like a humanoid robot, we can feel emotional needs and form deep bonds.

If that sounds crazy, just think about C-3PO. Any Star Wars fan can say that it is easy to make friends with the robot protocol. His voice and other characteristics bring him so close to being human that we can relate.

However, if we meet a very real robot, but one that could not move its eyebrows or make a familiar facial expression when speaking, we feel strange to interact with it. When what we see does not meet our expectations, we feel uncomfortable.


There are many examples of human appearance. We find them in movies and television, serving food, or patrolling shopping malls with other police officers. Here are examples of all types, from the feel-good friends to the mild-mannered.


As mentioned above, Pixar has a unique way of creating unique characters with enough personality to help us create a strong connection. But it's enough art to keep them away from the Uncanny Valley.

One heartwarming (and heartbreaking) example is from the animated film Up . The first ten minutes of the film form one of the most emotional scenes in modern cinema. But, how does Pixar create these characters so that audiences can connect with them?

One of the things that make them look so harmonious without being distracting is the extreme exaggeration of the face and body such as large noses and eyes, facial shapes that are too square or round or head and body proportions that are wrong.

By creating these characters in this way, they allow us to see them as human beings acting like human beings. We often have fun, the same way we treat animals or things that look or act in ways that we feel are 'human.'


Not all examples are found in film and pop culture. There is a growing trend of trying to create human-like robots for use in offices and other public spaces - with the aim of interacting with people. One example of this is the Actroid robot developed by the Japanese company Kokoro Company Ltd.

As you can see, this android wants to be very human. It has the body shape, facial features, and clothing that would be appropriate for someone to wear in a similar situation. But despite the seemingly genuine intention, it has gone too far and fallen on the edge of the Uncanny Valley.


Actor Tom Hanks is not new to talking about animation in movies. But not all of his films have received the same reception from critics and fans. One example is the 2004 Christmas movie Polar Express .

Although the film was widely praised for its visual appeal and unique history, many who saw it left the theater feeling uneasy. These waxy characters that failed with every little movement were absurd and a perfect example of the low point of the Uncanny Valley.


When people communicate, we don't just speak words. We also read each other's body language and facial expressions to gain information and context.

For example, if someone says, "I am very happy," it can mean several things depending on the context. We can understand it as true happiness if the person says this:

  • slightly higher pitch

  • he raised an eyebrow

  • a little faintness in the cheeks

But if the same person says the same thing is:

  • a deep, low tone

  • turning slightly at the corners of the mouth

  • lose a little weight on their back

It may be a sign that what they are saying is insulting. When we interact with human visuals, we can expect to skip the subtleties and subtleties and read subtle things like tone. When we don't get these little clues from the most beautiful colors, we don't like them at all.


As the population changes around the world and the age of people is increasing, especially in rich countries, there is a lot of interest in using robots to provide services and act as caregivers for the elderly, freeing up more young people to enter. to work

With this push comes interesting questions about how the Uncanny Valley affects people across generations and groups.

At least one study has found that while the Uncanny Valley Effect is common among young and middle-aged adults, those in the older age groups did not show the same reaction to robots as humans. Instead, he preferred to interact with robots that looked like humans.


The idea of ​​having robots help us throughout our lives is not new. Cartoons like The Jetsons , which first aired in 1962, started playing with the idea of ​​robot helpers to do all kinds of jobs around the house.

Today we are close to realizing this dream. We have digital assistants in the form of Siri and Alexa , we have cars that can drive themselves (at least in real situations), and we have robotic guards .

But as these digital assistants advance more and more, we are beginning to enter Uncanny Valley territory, and we must tread carefully if we want people to be comfortable with these new additions to public life.