Senior Lecturer in Games and Creative Technologies
01204 903 589
PhD thesis: ‘Viewer Perception of Facial Expression and Speech and the Uncanny Valley in Virtual Characters’. University of Bolton, UK. Examined and accepted without revisions by: Dr Malcolm Cook (University of Abertay); Professor Frank Pollick (University of Glasgow); and, Professor Peter Myler (University of Bolton).
B.A. (Hons) Textiles. Manchester Metropolitan University.
Angela Tinwell's research to date has centered on the 'Uncanny Valley' phenomenon in realistic, human-like characters featured in animation and video games. The Uncanny Valley phenomenon dictates that viewers will be less accepting of synthetic agents as their appearance becomes more human-like. Through a series of empirical studies, she has contributed to filling an evident gap in the literature on how the uncanny may be controlled by manipulating aspects of facial expression and speech in character design and introduced possible psychological factors that contribute to the cause of the Uncanny Valley. This includes how aspects of dynamic facial animation and speech may be manipulated to reduce the uncanny in empathetic, realistic human-like characters or exaggerate the uncanny to enhance the fear factor in characters intended for the horror genre .
Her research expands to issues of facial mimicry, mirror neuron activity (MNA), emotional contagion and attachment theory in humans, leading to a new standpoint as to the cause of the uncanny based on a perceived lack of empathy in a character. The findings from her research are not only relevant to the design of realistic, human-like characters in video games and film, but relational agents used in virtual simulations for therapeutic and training purposes in domains such as healthcare and education. For example, e-tutors for the online teaching of emotive subjects such as drama, therapy or counselling or robots intended to care for an aging generation. Other research interests include: Human Computer Interaction (HCI); Cyberpsychology; Nonverbal Communication; Social Robotics; Machine Learning; and Research Methods and Practice.