Digital humans with lifelike faces capable of winning our trust

22 March 2019
Ground-breaking research paper wins international acclaim
A group of researchers at the University of Sydney Business School say that Apple’s Siri and other digital interfaces are more likely to be trusted by users when they have lifelike human faces.
Mike Seymour wearing facial mapping technology

In a groundbreaking paper, researchers said digital humans that are extremely lifelike generated trustworthiness and are more likely to engender a sense of affinity in their users.

"We discovered that by making these digital humans extremely lifelike, they generate trustworthiness and people have affinity with them," said doctoral candidate Mike Seymour. "It shows that industry is well served by developing these more realistic digital human interfaces."

The paper, Crossing the Uncanny Valley? Understanding Affinity, Trustworthiness and Preference for More Realistic Virtual Humans in Immersive Environments, recently won the Best Paper Award at the Hawaiian International Conference of System Sciences (HICSS) conference.

Written by Mike Seymour, Lingyao Yuan, Alan Dennis and Professor Kai Riemer, the paper also won the Best Industry Studies Paper Award at the HICSS conference, the world’s oldest working scientific conference in the field of Information Technology Management.

"This award is intended to recognise exceptional research methods displayed by students and professionals, with the objective of better understanding intelligent (smart/wise) service systems," said Mr Seymour.

HICSS is second in citation rankings among 18 Information Systems (IS) conferences, ranks third in value among 13 Management Information Systems (MIS) conferences and second in conference rating among 11 IS conferences.

"The fact that two separate Awards Committees at HICSS independently found our research relevant means that we are creating a bridge between our academic community and industry," Mr Seymour said. "Our goal was always to take technology from the entertainment industry and apply it to other business areas to make a real difference."

"These awards also validate the work of the Business School’s Digital Disruption Research Group (DDRG) which helped us to create the Motus (digital) Lab through which we did part of this research."

"These awards also validate the School's support of its core research strengths and the brilliant support that we PhD students receive," Mr Seymour concluded.