HolidayBuyer's Guide

This CGI teenager is so realistic she won't even creep you out

For many viewers, Saya skips right over the Uncanny Valley.

Photo by Telyuka

Japanese high school student Saya has flawless skin, shiny hair and her uniform is always clean. That's not surprising since her parents are computer graphics artists who worked together to design their own virtual child.

When Saya was first unveiled around October last year by creators Teruyuki and Yuka Ishikawa, she blew viewers away. She's so realistic -- from her perfectly crafted features and the ultra-high detail skin to the way the light catches each individual strand of hair. People were scratching their heads in amazement.

This month has seen Saya get an upgrade of sorts, bringing her into the moving world. This video of Saya shown at this year's CEATEC, or Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies, shows her smiling and nodding at the camera.

It's hard to stop saying "she" and "her" instead of "it." That's because Saya's CGI-designer parents have effectively bridged the uncanny valley. The term, coined by Japanese robotics professor Masahiro Mori, refers to our natural sense of unease around things that are almost-but-not-quite human. It doesn't appear with Saya. Teruyuki and Yuka Ishikawa have somehow reached the other side of the valley and created a character that's both appealing and fascinating to look at.

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