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Does Kerstin Kealy belong in the 1950s and how groovy is '70s-era Dana Mogck?

The genealogy site MyHeritage has introduced a new feature that lets you (or photos of you) time travel to different decades. See in which time period WDAY anchors Kealy and Mogck and Forum writers Tracy Briggs, Tammy Swift, John Lamb and Jeff Kolpack all belong.

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A new feature on the genealogy website MyHeritage, allows you to upload photos of yourself and travel back in time to see what you would have looked like in various time periods of the past. Some Forum Communications staffers gave it a try. Bottom row: Jeff Kolpack, Kerstin Kealy, and Tammy Swift. Top row: John Lamb, Dana Mogck, and Tracy Briggs.
Troy Becker
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Have you ever wanted to pull a Marty McFly and time travel? Go back to the past and see what your parents were like in high school or what your kids or grandkids will be like in the future? An intriguing idea, right?

Well, short of stumbling across Doc Brown and his DeLorean in the parking lot of the Twin Pines Mall, most of us won't get the chance. But I came across another way to time travel. It's not quite as exciting as going to the "Enchantment Under the Sea Dance" and inspiring Chuck Berry's duck walk, but it's the next best thing.

The genealogy site, MyHeritage , has just unveiled AI Time Machine, a feature that creates images of a person in different time periods throughout history using text-to-image artificial intelligence technology. I've done stories on other tools from MyHeritage, including one that lets you animate old photos and have your ancestors narrate their own stories. The results ranged from fascinating to freaky. And this latest resource is no different.

Here's how AI Time Machine works: You upload at least 10 images of yourself into AI Time Machine on the MyHeritage site. Then, choose which period in history you'd like to visit. AI Time Machine uses artificial intelligence to create imaginary images of you as you might have looked in different periods in history. You can see what you'd look like as an Egyptian pharaoh, a medieval knight, a Victorian lady, a '20s flapper, a World War II fighter pilot, a '60s hippie and dozens more.

AI Time Machine from MyHeritage
An example of how this modern-day woman would look in various eras in time through AI Time Machine at MyHeritage.
Contributed / MyHeritage

AI Time Machine is currently available on desktop and via mobile web browsers. The feature is free at launch for a limited introductory period (with a limit of one model and 50 themes per user, for a total of 400 images), following which it will become a paid feature. A one-time purchase will then allow you to upload photos to create a model of one person and generate 160 images with up to 20 themes.

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I was impressed by the results I had with my photos. However, if you do this yourself, don't be surprised if you get a few duds in your bunch. For whatever reason, my photos in the 18th Century Bride theme looked more Bride of Frankenstein. But overall, the results were great. Here are some tips for the best results:

  • Upload at least 10 images, more if possible
  • Include full body shots, profiles, close-ups and mid-shots
  • You should be alone in the image
  • No glasses or hats
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Before we time traveled. Bottom row: Jeff Kolpack, Kerstin Kealy and Tammy Swift. Top Row: John Lamb, Dana Mogck and Tracy Briggs.
Troy Becker

After dabbling with the tool for far too long, I decided I wanted to see results from other people. So I asked Forum Communications colleagues Kerstin Kealy, Dana Mogck, Tammy Swift, John Lamb and Jeff Kolpack to send me their photos so they could time travel with me. I think their results were even better. Make sure to click on the arrow on the right of the photos to view our full galleries.

Time Travel with Dana Mogck

Dana Mogck is a 1978 graduate of Fargo South High, but did he look like this in the 1970s? “Take away the glasses and tint of grey, and it looks like I'm getting ready for a North-South hockey game," he said. See the rest of his images from the pioneer days to the 1920s.

Time Travel with Kerstin Kealy

What’s interesting about the feature is how some people/photos just click with certain eras. My 1950s-era shots didn’t look good at all, but Kealy’s were keen. (Did they say “keen” in the 1950s?) I think she looks like Doris Day here. Of her images, Kealy said, “I think I may have been born in the wrong decade. It looks like I would've fit right in in the '50s. All of them are so me and I love that era!” Check out her other looks from cowgirl to '70s disco.

Time Travel with Tracy Briggs

While Kerstin seemed to click in the ‘50s, I had more images that worked in the 1940s, which is also pretty neato (Did they say neato in the 1940s?) since I love WWII-era music and style. I also love that they put me in red lipstick since Hitler hated that! I also like my Celtic images where my freckles seemed to fit, but found I failed miserably as an Egyptian queen, looking more like “Gidget visits Egypt” than royalty.

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Time Travel with Tammy Swift

As long as we’re in the mid-20th century, Forum columnist Tammy Swift looked refined as a 1930s-era British woman. "I feel like I should be serving my husband, George Sanders, scones with clotted cream and great lashings of butter,” she said. Brilliant. I think Tammy looks lovely and ethereal in all of her images, including ones as a French Aristocrat which she says looks like it was shot through a chiffon nightgown.

Time Travel with Jeff Kolpack

Technically this era was called “1920s man.” But I'd call this "1920s Bootlegger," because tell me sportswriter Jeff Kolpack doesn’t look like someone running rum or moonshine through the Midwest in the 1920s. “My bar-owning grandfather in Wisconsin during Prohibition ran a speakeasy in the basement and bought booze from Al Capone’s organization, so I fit right in,” said Kolpack. He was also a pretty imposing-looking Civil War General.

Time Travel with John Lamb

Of course, not all of the time travel happens in the 20th century, the themes go back to ancient Greece and Rome and to Europe and America in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Features writer John Lamb had some good results in the 1920s and in the Civil War-era, but this was my favorite - John Lamb as the Norse King. He said of his Norse King look, "Bow down to King John, son of Jerry, gorger of cinnamon rolls. At least my beard looks clean."

All in all, a fun way to spend a few hours. If you try AI Time Machine on MyHeritage, feel free to email me your results along with a current photo of you so we can see the change. If I get enough examples from readers, I'll do a follow-up story. But even if I don't do a follow-up, I'd like to start an online petition to have John Lamb permanently assume his Norse God persona. I'll bring the cinnamon rolls.

Tracy Briggs is an Emmy-nominated News, Lifestyle and History reporter with Forum Communications with more than 35 years of experience, in broadcast, print and digital journalism.
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