Dreambit uses combined algorithms to show users how they'd look with different hairstyles. Dreambit uses combined algorithms to show users how they'd look with different hairstyles. Dreambit uses combined algorithms to show users how they'd look with different hairstyles. (Photo: Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman/University of Washington)

George Clooney in a man bun? Miranda Kerr in dreadlocks? New site makes it happen

Dreambit software that lets you imagine yourself – or your favorite celebrity – in a totally new look.

How would you look as a blond? What about with a Victorian updo? A military-style buzz cut? A new search engine developed by a University of Washington professor lets you think of it all, through the magic of photo imaging.

Through Dreambit, you can upload a photo of yourself and then type in a search term, such as "curly hair," "1930s" or "India," and the software does the work for you. In seconds, your face is seamlessly superimposed with dozens of different hairstyles and looks.

“This is a way to try on different looks or personas without actually changing your physical appearance,” said Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, an Israeli-born computer engineer who co-leads UW's Graphics and Imaging Laboratory and was the lead developer of the Dreambit system. “While imagining what you’d look like with a new hairstyle is mind-blowing, it also lets you experiment with creative imaginative scenarios.”

Watch her show how the new system works in the video below:

Though the concept of digital photo imaging is not new – there's a handful of sites where you can upload a photo and "try on" different hairstyles – Dreambit's results are clearer and more lifelike. That's because its developers use several previously developed algorithms in a unique way to create the blended images.

But Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, who earned her Ph.D. in computer science and applied mathematics at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science, says the new software is more than fun and games. Dreambit can also show what a missing child might look like if their appearance had been purposefully disguised, or even how they would look at an advanced age if years have passed.

“It’s hard to recognize someone by just looking at a face, because we as humans are so biased towards hairstyles and hair colors,” said Kemelmacher-Shlizerman. “With missing children, people often dye their hair or change the style, so age-progressing just their face isn’t enough. This is a first step in trying to imagine how a missing person’s appearance might change over time.”

Dreambit's new software stretches the limits of age progression.Dreambit's new software stretches the limits of age progression. (Photo: Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman/University of Washington)

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