It took Ricky Ma a year and a half to piece together his android, an ambition he'd had since childhood
In her long career as a leading lady on the silver screen, Scarlett Johansson has played many roles; an ethereal beauty at the centre of international miscommunication; an all-knowing Ethernet the winds up as a cosmic USB stick; even a man-seducing extraterrestrial with a penchant for parallel parking and parallel universe. And none of that lives up to the creepy robotic work carried out by a Hong Kong robotics engineer, who has spent $50,000 building an android that looks... a bit like a dodgy waxwork Scarlett you might see in the Dublin Wax Museum.
As reported by Reuters, Hong Kong product and graphic designer Ricky Ma always dreamed of one day adding the finishing touches into his very own robot. And now, at the age of 42, after 18 months labour, he has screwed the final bolt into the robot he built on his balcony, modelled after an A-list Hollywood actress whose identity he wanted to keep to himself. For privacy sake, let’s call her ‘Scarlett J’... No, that’s too obvious. Let’s say ‘S Johansson’.
Mark 1 on the balcony of Ricky Ma's Hong Kong apartment. The product and graphic designer spent 18 months building the robot from scratch [Reuters]
Mark 1, as Ma has taken to calling his creation, is capable of simple body movements, including articulation of her arms and legs, turning her head, and bowing. She also responds to compliments, smiling and saying, “Hehe, thank you,” when told by Ma that she is beautiful.
For the Hong Kong inventor, this has been more than just a labour of love, given that he has invested more than $50,000 in the project.
“I figured I should just do it when the timing is right and realise my dream,” he said. “If I realise my dream, I will have no regrets in life.”
Mark 1’s construction comprises roughly 70% 3D-printed material, and the plastic, mechanical parts and electronics are wrapped in a silicone skin.
Ma’s Mark 1 may not officially be dedicated to Scarlett Johansson, and with good reason. The actress has past form for taking legal action against the “fraudulent and illicit use of her name, fame, and image” for commercial gain.
Last August, the actress lost her legal battle to stop an erotic French novel being published in English, featuring a “distraught Hollywood starlet” bearing an uncanny likeness to the Lost in Translation star. While Johansson did win damages and court costs in her action against author Grégoire Delacourt’s book The First Thing You See, the novel was given permission to be translated into English – provided a number of line about the character’s identity be cut from the prose.