Pokémon Superfan Made A Working Replica Of Ash’s Pokédex
Back when the Pokémon anime first premiered in the ‘90s, nearly every kid had a Pokédex—the renowned red device that identified the delightful creatures—on their wish list. Nearly three decades later, a YouTuber has created a real-life version of the Pokédex using ChatGPT—and it looks like it actually works.
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Engineering hobbyist Abe’s Projects, whose real name is Abe Haskins and who identifies as nonbinary, is an ex-Google engineer who started making YouTube videos about their projects after being laid off. Now dedicated to YouTube full-time, Haskins posted a video about their quest to build a working Pokédex on YouTube earlier this month.
The YouTuber said they got the idea for the Pokédex from seeing all the cool devices in anime, cartoons, and sci-fi. One of the gadgets that stood out to them was the Pokédex, which was “just so cool, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”
“I’m a big fan of prop and replica makers who take ideas from media and recreate them aesthetically in real life, however these projects tend to be visual clones only and are largely non-functioning,” Haskins told Gizmodo in an email. “I liked the idea of doing the same thing, but focusing on the tech—can we really make this work?”
Haskins had three goals: They wanted the device to look similar to the one in the anime, be able to recognize Pokémon in most situations, and have a robotic voice similar to the one in the show. After creating a quick sketch of their build plan, Haskins got to work.
I built the world’s first real, working Pokédex
First, the YouTuber 3D-printed a rectangular red case for the device. This houses the components needed to make the Pokédex work, including a camera to identify Pokémon, a speaker, and a battery. Identification is where ChatGPT-4 comes in. Haskins then uses OpenAI’s tool to analyze what the device was looking at and check it against the Pokémon API, a database of Pokémon information.
AI not only played a role in identifying Pokémon, it also helped replicate the voice of Nick Stellate, the actor behind the voice of the Pokédex from 1997 to 1998. Using PlayHT, an AI Voice generator, Haskins cloned Stellate’s voice from a video clip. The result wasn’t a perfect replica—and in Abe’s Projects opinion, the voice completely changes on some occasions—but it was good enough.
Although the YouTuber faced many bumps in the road when making their Pokédex, including a bug where the device showed gibberish instead of text on the screen, the final product was a dignified, homemade Pokédex. The device wasn’t very good at identifying Pokémon plushies, but it did manage to identify Pokémon action figures and online images.
According to Haskins, building a Pokédex is one of the hardest projects they’ve ever done. While it’s not perfect, the homemade Pokédex has won over many Pokémon fans, who applauded the YouTuber’s efforts in the comments and asked if they planned on making any models available for sale. Unfortunately for the fans, the answer is no.
“My goal is to inspire people to tackle their own projects, not simply buy mine—that’s no fun,” Haskins said.
Update 2/9/2024, 12:19 p.m. ET: This post has been updated with additional comment from Haskins.