Jorge Jiminez, a PhD student at the Universidad de Zaragoza, is developing a way to enhance the appearance of skin in video games, rendering skin more realistic through the use of something called "separable subsurface scattering."
Separable subsurface scattering, a technique that has been used in animation for awhile but enhanced by Jiminez so that it requires less specs, refers to a light penetration process. It is based on how light acts a certain way when it moves through translucent surfaces such as skin, describes Wired UK.
Through his research, Jiminez has discovered that separable subsurface scattering is near to impossible without considering high-definition resolution and other factors including film grain, tone mapping, parametrization maps, high quality shadow maps and more. As Jiminez points out, "If you fail on any of them, the illusion of looking at a real human will be broken."
Jiminez's overall dream is to improve the way humans look in games. His notion is that more realistic characters will lead to better storytelling and enhanced emotions in video games.