Scientists have developed a new system that can let you imagine how you would look with a different hairstyle and colour, or in another time period, age or country.
After uploading an input photo, you type in a search term – such as “curly hair,” “India” or “1930s,” researchers said.
The software’s algorithms search internet photo collections for similar images in that category and seamlessly map the person’s face onto the results, they said.
The system called Dreambit developed by researchers from University of Washington in the US lets a person imagine how they would look with a different hairstyle or colour, or in a different time period, age, country or anything else that can be queried in an image search engine.
Dreambit draws on previous research in facial processing, recognition, three-dimensional reconstruction and age progression, combining those algorithms in a unique way to create the blended images, researchers said.
The new software can also help show what a missing child or person evading the law might look like if their appearance has been purposefully disguised, or even how they would look at an advanced age if years have passed, they said.
Researchers previously developed automated age progression software that focused only on a person’s face. The new system adds varied hairstyle options and other contextual elements.
These new features enable one to imagine what a child might look like five or 10 years into the future under different circumstances – with red hair, curly hair, black hair or even a shaved head, researchers said.
“It is hard to recognise someone by just looking at a face, because we as humans are so biased towards hairstyles and hair colours,” said Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman from University of Washington.
“With missing children, people often dye their hair or change the style so age-progressing just their face is not enough. This is a first step in trying to imagine how a missing person’s appearance might change over time,” said Kemelmacher-Shlizerman.
Another potential application is to envision how a certain actor or actress might appear in a role. For example, the system can marry internet photographs of the actress Cate Blanchett and Bob Dylan to predict how she would appear playing the Dylan role in the movie “I’m Not There.”
“This is a way to try on different looks or personas without actually changing your physical appearance,” said Kemelmacher-Shlizerman.
“While imagining what you would look like with a new hairstyle is mind blowing, it also lets you experiment with creative imaginative scenarios,” she said.
The software system analyses the input photo and searches for a subset of internet photographs that fall into the desired category but also match the original photo’s face shape, pose and expression, researchers said.