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Genealogy site's disturbing new AI photo tool lets you reanimate deceased loved ones

By Jeff Spry

Using computer technology to create magical animated photographs like the ones seen in the Harry Potter films, the genealogy company MyHeritage has a semi-controversial new tool to deliver movement to static family photos.

Using an AI-driven technique similar to Deep Fake digital videos, MyHeritage's online genealogy platform now offers a way to bring the added dimension of life to person's portraits, whether alive or dead, via their Deep Nostalgia option.

To deliver this slightly disturbing sorcery, Deep Nostalgia can operate with photo samples from any camera, regardless of the age of the picture, and breathe a few seconds of life into the person's face. 

This unique program employs pre-recorded driver videos of facial movements and selects expressions or gestures that work best for each photograph. The tool provides an added emotional component to each uploaded snapshot and heightens the human connection in a seriously uncanny way.

MyHeritage freely acknowledges that its new AI-driven photo animation tool, engineered by Israeli tech firm D-ID, is not for everyone.

“Some people love the Deep Nostalgia feature and consider it magical,” MyHeritage notes on their Deep Nostalgia web page, “while others find it creepy and dislike it. Indeed, the results can be controversial and it’s hard to stay indifferent to this technology.”

Deep Nostalgia users must sign up for a free account on MyHeritage and then upload their photos. The ancestry site then processes and enhances the image prior to animating it and creating a gif file. The system is only capable of handling single headshots and is limited to only animating faces.

Right now curious customers can upload five photos for free via the MyHeritage website for some fun Deep Nostalgia manipulation before you need to officially register for a paid account.