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Jun. 23, 2011

Building A Better Pop Star

by Ian Chant

It’s been said that stars are just like the rest of us. But Japan’s newest pop sensation, Aimi Eguchi, really isn’t like the rest of us. Check out this video of Eguchi. Notice anything strange?


While the rest of us are (presumably?) people, Eguchi is actually a piece of computer animation.

Originally, Eguchi was billed as the newest member of the Japanese girl-pop collective AKB48 – think a cross between the Mickey Mouse Club and the Spice Girls and you’re getting there. Kind of.

Fans had their suspicions about the new girl from the start – she seemed a little rigid, and looked strangely similar to other AKB48 members. Producers behind the Japanese super-group confirmed those suspicions this week. They released footage of the character being brought to life from motion captured video of other members of the group. It’s a pretty impressive display, resulting in an eerily anthropomorphic character that combines the faces, features and even voices of Eguchi’s bandmates. You can check out the process by which six pop stars are transformed, Voltron-style, into one super pop-idol, in the video below. It’s less creepy than it sounds.


While Eguchi isn’t Japan’s first computer generated pop-star – and frankly, loses points for being just an animation, and not an honest-to-goodness robot – she does demonstrate how far the technology has come. In the coming years, it may be increasingly difficult to tell the difference between reality and computer simulations. With augmented reality programs (that overlay computer images on your view of the real world) coming to a phone or tablet near you, prepare for things to get weird in pretty short order.

But the most impressive sidenote to this story? The fact that Eguchi was apparently created to market ice cream snacks. Baskin Robbins, consider the advertising bar raised.

HT to Dvice

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About Ian Chant

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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