Kawaii/Cute interactive media Universal Access in the Information Society August 2012, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 295-309
Abstract Cuteness in interactive systems is a relatively new development yet has its roots in the aesthetics of many historical and cultural elements. Symbols of cuteness abound in nature as in the creatures of neotenous proportions: drawing in the care and concern of the parent and the care from a protector. We provide an in-depth look at the role of cuteness in interactive systems beginning with a history. We particularly focus on the Japanese culture of Kawaii, which has made large impact around the world, especially in entertainment, fashion, and animation. We then take the approach of defining cuteness in contemporary popular perception. User studies are presented offering an in-depth understanding of key perceptual elements, which are identified as cute. This knowledge provides for the possibility to create a cute filter that can transform inputs and automatically create more cute outputs. This paper also provides an insight into the next generation of interactive systems that bring happiness and comfort to users of all ages and cultures through the soft power of cute.