Teddy Ruxpin is back…with even creepier eyes. This 80’s throwback bear by Wicked Cool Toys used to tell stories through a cassette tape player. Now he’s equipped with Bluetooth technology, LED lights, and over 40 animated expressions. Yikes.
Actually, there’s a scientific explanation for why we humans probably find Teddy horrifying. It’s called the “uncanny valley”, a characteristic dip in emotional response that happens when we encounter an entity that is almost, but not quite, human. For instance, we like to humanize animals like cats because they are so clearly not human, but when we see robots or animation that is almost realistic, it hits too close to home.
According to The Guardian,
“It was first hypothesised in 1970 by the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori, who identified that as robots became more human-like, people would find them to be more acceptable and appealing than their mechanical counterparts. But this only held true to up a point. When they were close to, but not quite, human, people developed a sense of unease and discomfort. If human-likeness increased beyond this point, and they became very close to human, the emotional response returned to being positive. It is this distinctive dip in the relationship between human-likeness and emotional response that is called the uncanny valley.”
But if that doesn’t freak you out, there’s also an app you can download for your new Teddy, because of course there is. Here’s a video of the ~big toy announcement~.