May 11, 2015
MyIdol is a crazy Chinese avatar-making app that lets you use upload a photo and uses facial recognition technology to map your features and create an avatar that looks scarily realistic. You can then insert your avatar into a variety of situations, settings, and activities. The upside: it’s a fun potential time waster that uses some really creative technology. The downside: the app is currently only in Chinese, with the promises of an English version coming soon (If you happen to be fluent in Mandarin, I suppose there is no real downside).
The app spiked in popularity a couple weeks ago when videos of an avatar-ed Barak Obama pole dancing made the rounds on social media. Mashable even posted a how-to guide for creating a MyIdol avatar (because, again, unless you know Chinese, the app’s guide isn’t very helpful). You can either take a photo within the app, or upload one from your camera roll. Best results come from a photo that is taken straight on with good lighting and no shadows or hair in your face.
Once your photo is uploaded, you can play around with any of the million features (some free and some paid) that you can add to your avatar. There are scrolling bars that help you set a face that represents your age and skin tone. You can choose hair color and style, eye color, clothing, and accessories like sunglasses or hats.
There are lots of apps that let you create personalized avatars. Bitstrips is the most popular one that comes to mind. But what sets MyIdol apart is how it hones in on your own facial features, like your eyes, and lands your avatar squarely in uncanny valley. I played around with MyIdol a bit to check it out. I uploaded a photo (admittedly in very poor lighting and looking a bit more surly than I felt at the time), and messed around with some of the features. Basically this means I randomly pressed buttons until I got the gender, age (ish), and skin tone right. I then chose hair, eye color, and clothing.
When you’re done, you can press the button in the upper right corner and it will take you to the video options. This is where you can turn your avatar into a surfer, guitar player, or pole dancer (among many other options). If your avatar wasn’t already creepy enough staring straight at you, seeing it move, blink, smile, and talk, takes things to a whole new level.
This is the avatar I created (ignore the dark circles under my avatar’s eyes…it was a late night). What you can’t hear is the heart-wrenching Chinese is the love ballad she’s singing, but you get the picture.
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