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.
Engineering hobbyist Abe’s Projects posted a video about their quest to build a working Pokédex on YouTube earlier this month. The YouTuber 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, Abe’s Projects got to work.
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. Abe’s Projects 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, Abe’s Projects 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 his 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.
Overall, the Abe’s Projects Pokédex is one of the best replicas from the show I’ve seen. It is way better than the original 1998 Pokédex toy from Tiger and Hasbro. The Tiger Pokédex, which didn’t have a camera to identify Pokémon—served as more of a toy encyclopedia with two-frame animation. It’s still a coveted item among Pokémon fans, and I would love to get my hands on one.
According to Abe’s Projects, building a Pokédex is one of the hardest projects he’s 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 he planned on making any models available for sale.