42-year-old Ricky Ma spent $50,000 and two years of his life creating the android
HONG KONG – Every kid has a dream. Some of us want to travel the world, write for a respected music publication, or meet the perfect companion. For 42-year-old Hong Kong resident Ricky Ma, he realized that latter goal by spending nearly two years of his life and $50,000 building the woman of his dreams: Scarlett Johansson.
To be fair, Ma’s dream was really just to build a working robot. As he set about to achieve it, however, he took it a step further and designed the thing to look exactly (read: creepily) like the famous star. He constructed the ‘bot using a 70% 3D printed “skeleton” and layers of silicone “skin”, all of which he carefully crafted to resemble Johansson, even if he calls his creation Mark 1. (If Ma were a bigger fan of Her, he might’ve thought to call it Samantha.)
Motors in Mark 1’s face allow “her” to respond realistically to a series of vocal commands Ma gives the ‘bot through a microphone and his computer. For example, when he calls ScarJo Mark 1 “cute,” it actually winks as it says, “Thank you.”
Uncomfortable feelings aside, the feat is actually pretty remarkable. Ma is a graphic designer with no formal training in programming or electromechanics, so the fact the he was driven enough to actually complete Mark 1 is, ostensibly, amazing. “When I was a child, I liked robots,” Ma said. “I figured I should just do it when the timing is right and realize my dream. If I realize my dream, I will have no regrets in life.” You can’t argue with that… it’s just that one extra step that gives off that whole uneasy vibe.