I tried out the MyHeritage AI image generator and the results freak me out!

 MyHeritage AI Time Machine
MyHeritage AI Time Machine results using a 1950s theme (Image credit: MyHeritage / Beth Nicholls)

Ever wondered what you'd look like as a Musketeer? Pirate? Viking? Or even an ancient Greek God or French aristocrat? Then MyHeritage's latest feature will blow your mind. Powerful new technologies and recent developments in AI imaging are extraordinary (but also pretty scary) and this Stable Diffusion-based model is the latest text-to-image generator to take over the internet.

Free for a limited time only, this new AI Time Machine image technology licensed by online genealogy company, MyHeritage, produces pretty surreal and hyper-realistic results when transforming your everyday selfies into unique historical and fantasy portraits. You just need 25 images of yourself from different angles to get started. 

We need to talk about the Midjourney Discord-based AI image generator (opens in new tab)

Following the official launch of the AI Time Machine (opens in new tab) just five days ago, MyHeritage reports that over 4.1 million AI-generated images have since been created worldwide using the impressive software. 

MyHeritage (opens in new tab) is a global service that holds around 14 billion historical records for users of the platform to discover their past while delving into the creation of family trees and DNA testing kits.

It's safe to say that MyHeritage has fully leaped onto the bandwagon of the surging popularity of AI-image generators, in what is possibly the most genius marketing tool and a very fitting approach to embracing our potentially unknown heritage, while sparking a desire to find out who our ancestors were, and if we really could be a royal descendant of the Roman empire or a 19th-century princess.

The software recommends you to upload 25 images from different angles and positions (Image credit: MyHeritage / Beth Nicholls)

The entire process is very easy to navigate and understand. You simply have to start by uploading 25 images of yourself or an individual to the website – note that this is best done using a laptop or tablet as the webpage timed out when using my phone browser – and then after signing up (it's free!) with your email address, MyHeritage will email you a link to retrieve your image results.

The process and waiting time after uploading your selfies can take between 30 to 90 minutes, and after providing your email address to register, the company will send you additional and frequent promotional material so it's worth unsubscribing pretty soon after this. 

Ancient Greek theme (Image credit: MyHeritage / Beth Nicholls)
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Once you receive your link, it will direct you to an interactive area of the site where you can not only view but download your historical AI-generated images. Similar to the likes of Midjourney, the AI will provide you with a box grid of multiple generated images from the same time period (prompt) and you can enlarge and save the ones you like best, or the entire grid if you choose.

Notice how in the image below, the AI struggles with making extremely large foreheads, and it also struggled with my nose ring quite often too, sometimes even removing it. 

Ancient Greek theme (Image credit: MyHeritage / Beth Nicholls)

For reference - this is a normal selfie (Image credit: Beth Nicholls)

You need to have a fair bit of patience when using this tool, as it can take a few minutes to generate further scenarios and themes to transform yourself into after viewing the pre-selected ones by the software. 

The AI Time Machine has a limit of only one model, and up to 50 themes per user account, for a total of 400 images of yourself in another life that you can view, download and share. You own the images, but you are not allowed to remove the AI symbol in the bottom left corner but can get rid of the watermark if you pay for the subscription service. The resolution of the images you get is 512x512 pixels – so of limited use for printing.

All of the different themes available + me as an astronaut (Image credit: MyHeritage / Beth Nicholls)
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I found that some of my results had no resemblance at all to the way I see myself, although others were pretty spot on. The results for myself as a cowgirl have actually made me consider getting a shorter haircut with bangs, something I never thought I'd say, and in some of the generated images, I barely recognize myself and actually see elements of my mum instead which is pretty cool. 

I was super impressed with how the AI software interpreted my blue hair in each theme and scenario, as I initially thought that this would be a challenge and something it could really struggle with, having to change and implement this color into historical time periods and traditional paintings (take a look through the image gallery below to see the results).

This cutting-edge and extremely fun tool can be used to create images of absolutely anyone (yourself or even a celebrity figure - as discovered by (opens in new tab) MailOnline) ensuring that you have 25 images of them from various angles, to reimagine this person as if they had existed in different time periods throughout history, as well as social cultures. 

The AI Time Machine uses technology based on Stable Diffusion (opens in new tab), which was licensed for use by MyHeritage, and derived from an innovative company known as Astria, which specializes in tailor-made AI image generation, following a research paper surrounding the act of Fine Tuning large Text-to-Image Diffusion Models (opens in new tab) for the purposes of Subject-Driven image generation.

My fiancé, Will, with the Roman Aristocrat theme (Image credit: MyHeritage / Beth Nicholls)
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I repeated the process with images of my fiancé, creating a separate account with his permission, to see if some of the results would be just as accurate for him or differentiated when experimenting with a male-gendered individual instead. 

I found that Will's results were much more convincingly realistic than mine, without the obvious blue hair to work with, and different themes were offered to choose from such as Celtic Warrior, Crusader, Medieval King, and Musketeer which weren't available when I generated my own images, (see the gallery below for a collection of the results). 

Will was just as mesmerized with his results as I was at first, and staring at them for a long period of time can really mess with your head. The images aren't perfect by any means, with plenty of noticeable errors made by the AI that include having too many fingers, looking a little cross-eyed, and straight-up blurriness.  

Overall the results that this AI-image generator can produce in just thirty minutes are astonishing, and a little concerning, with the internet already being a place of confusion and skepticism over what is real and fake. The company has already had to urge users to act responsibly with the AI, without using images of minors or potentially hateful political figures such as Nazis or the US President.

Will as a Greek God, courtesy of the MyHeritage AI Time Machine (Image credit: MyHeritage / Beth Nicholls)

MyHeritage AI Time Machine

For reference - this is what Will looks like regularly before the Time Machine treatment (Image credit: MyHeritage / Beth Nicholls)

Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage shared that “At MyHeritage, we’re constantly developing cool new ways to connect people to their family history...Over the past 3 years, we released many successful features that use the power of AI to bring historical photos to life. AI Time Machine™ is a new twist on this theme, inviting you to travel to the past and see yourself as you might have looked at the time of your ancestors."

Co-founder and CEO of Astria, Alon Burg, commented “We are delighted to collaborate with MyHeritage to apply our technology to the field of family history.” Burg continues, “Generative AI is an exhilarating new frontier, and we’re very excited that this integration will create fun and meaningful experiences for millions of people worldwide.”

MyHeritage AI Time Machine

Will using the Baroque theme (Image credit: MyHeritage / Beth Nicholls)

It's clear that this form of AI technology won't be slowing down or going away anytime soon. Many platforms are understandably worried by the possibilities of this technology, with fears that it could replace the work of photographers and illustrators, and cannot easily be held accountable to the same rules and boundaries of breaching copyright restrictions.

What do you think about the new popularity of AI-image generation? Is it awesome or a threat to other content creators in the industry? Let us know what you think!

You may also want to check out what is an AI camera? How AI is changing photography? (opens in new tab), as well as learn why Getty and Shutterstock have banned AI-generated images (opens in new tab). Keep up to date with Google's new AI image generator (opens in new tab) and discover how The war against machines has begun (opens in new tab).

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