The future is now, because check out this digital girl who looks exactly like a real person.
Meet Saya, a girl designed by Teruyuki and Yuka Ishikawa, a husband and wife graphic design team based in Japan. Saya was originally designed to be a character in a short film, but when the Ishikawas presented her to the public and realized what a huge hit their “digital daughter” was, they both quit their full-time jobs to focus on developing Saya. While working on Saya, they lived off their savings, with the help of corporate support.
As the BBC reports, this week they debuted the first animated version of Saya at the consumer electronics exhibition CEATEC in Japan, and she blew people’s minds with her insanely lifelike appearance.
Though her movements still feel more programmed than human, Saya is an animated character that threatens to defy the concept of “the uncanny valley,” an animator’s term for when a computer-generated figure looks almost human, but there’s something about the animated character that feels a little off, and therefore just ends up totally freaking people out.
“One of the most difficult tasks we face is making Saya’s movements appear more natural and spontaneous,” Yuka Ishikawa told the BBC.
The Ishikawas basically designed Saya to be the perfect girl, or at least, a girl that could live up to Japan’s standards of perfection.
So what’s next for this virtual superstar? As the Ishikawas told the BBC, they’re hoping to program Saya to interact with humans and provide emotional support to those who presumably aren’t getting what they need from IRL humans.
The future is so exciting! The future is so weird! But mostly the future is so exciting!