Fantasies come true: Watch Putin (or whoever you want) pole-dancing on My Idol
“Made in China” has long been equal to poor-quality, copycat and sweatshops. It is embarrassing, as Chinese myself, to hear complaints around me all the time. But something happened last week was a total boost: a “Made in China” smartphone application went viral. So viral that all the major medias are talking about it only 5 days after it’s available in App Store, so viral that Buzzfeed tested it and wrote two articles about it in a roll. By the way did I mention the app is entirely in mandarin? Even the barrier of language cannot reduce its charm. If you haven’t download it then you are out. Because this app is one of the coolest things China has EVER offered to the world : it’s My Idol ( or 小偶 for those who read mandarin).
The concept is simple. You take a selfie (or upload a picture of your face uncovered) to the app, then you get an animated version of yourself. Once your animated character generated, you can change its haircut, outfit, and facial expression. The last step is to make the character do whatever you want, among the preset scenes/movements that are available. It would be degrading to call My Idol an avatar-maker. The animated “idol” is hyperrealistic thanks to insanely accurate face recognition technology: you bang your head at the bottom of the uncanny valley when you see the result. It’s just creepily entertaining. And addictive.
The collected wisdom of the Internet decided that everybody deserves to be made into an Idol. Here is a fine selection of works I found:
And here comes my favorite: Putin doing pole-dancing in miniskirt
For now, the app seems to be a pointless joke, but it’s huge potential in the future is open to speculation. It is hard not to be reminded of “ Smile to Pay”, a facial recognition mobile payment tool revealed at CeBit last month by Alibaba CEO Jack Ma, here is a video about the “pay-with-your-selfie” service ( p.s. a Finnish company already patented a similar technology in 2013, as I found out while writing this article. Sigh.):
Although the My Idol app looks quite naive, the astonishing features certainly indicates a rather solid and matured technological base. Hard to say if My Idol and Alibaba are in any way related or if the former is secretly a testing/data collecting tool of “Smile to Pay”. If eventually we cannot swipe our faces to pay for the new jacket, we can at least try it on using our smartphones.
(By the way I had some fun with My Idol as well)