Nowadays you can buy virtually anything from China’s online marketplace and the nation’s tech-savvy pupils are known for turning to Taobao or Tmall for tools and innovations that can help make their studies and life easier.

It was a well-kept secret for a young schoolgirl in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province when she surprised her mom and finished her homework quicker than normal, until she was caught using a device she bought online which could copy text and mimic her handwriting almost imperceptibly.

The so-called “copying robot” – a metal frame and a pen to write homework – has gone viral after media reports that a 15-year-old schoolgirl had bought the device to help her complete her homework during the Chinese New Year break so she could spend more time playing her favorite smartphone games. She reportedly used it for exercises such as copying passages from a textbook and writing essays.

It turned out that the girl had spent more than 800 yuan (US$120) buying the device online using the red packet money she was given during the new year.

This is, indeed, written by a machine. Photo: Taobao
The copying machine is available on Alibaba’s Taobao platform.

The device must be attached to a computer via a USB cable to access software to work, which allows a user to “bespoke” a set of fonts based on his own handwriting.

The vender of the machine claimed it could “imitate all sorts of handwriting” and a user can just enter characters once and the robot learns and mimics his handwriting and writes for hours at a speed of 25-30 characters per minute.