MyHeritage’s New Feature, ‘Deep Nostalgia’, is Recreating and Bringing Back Old Images to Life Using Artificial Intelligence

Reliving the past might not be possible, but bringing the past to life has been converted to reality by the Deep Nostalgia feature of MyHeritage’s genealogy service website. This feature uses AI to let you upload photographs comprising either one or multiple people. The pictures are then animated and converted into a short video clip. The people in the pictures move their heads, blink their eyes and change their expressions minimally, giving the perfect illusion of reality. It looks as though the video was captured while the people were prepping for the portrait. 

The AI-powered photo enhancements prove to be an emotional roller coaster ride for the people allowing them to form an individual connection with their ancestors whom they might not even know. It can be compared to the Live Photo feature, which captures various seconds before and after the camera shutter is pressed on the iOS devices. The difference, however, is that Deep Nostalgia is bringing even those old images to life that have not been clicked on a modern smartphone! The best part is that it does not require the user to put in any extra effort and fully automated.

Application and Usage of the Feature 

Once the image is uploaded, the website sharpens and enhances the image to better its quality. Simultaneously, the deep learning algorithm also benefits from the enhancement as the job of creating the final animation becomes easier. The deep learning algorithm developed by an AI-licensed company, D-ID, analyses the photograph’s orientation to determine the direction in which the head is moving, where the eyes are looking so as to ensure that the generation of the final animation is perfect. The feature also allows you to utilize a set of pre-recorded animations and transfer them to your photograph. 

The machine learning being used makes sure that the image is as real as it can get and that the original shot’s aesthetics are retained. The website MyHeritage will require you to sign up using your mail id to create an animation, following which you will be allowed to animate up to five photographs at absolutely no cost. However, after reaching the limit of five pictures, you will need to pay for the continuation of services.

Limitations of the technology 

This use of artificial intelligence looks no less than straight out of a science fiction series or book. It is mind-boggling and astonishingly real. At the current moment, however, there are certain limitations attached to this tool. For example, in a photograph with multiple subjects, only a single person can be animated and made to look real. The user needs to select that particular person as the current version is not equipped to bring an entire shot with multiple subjects to life. Additionally, the animation is limited to the head and neck region only. So, if the image has a subject playing football or tennis, the animation will not show them hitting or swinging the ball. 

Safety Measures 

These short video clips have become increasingly popular among the masses who’ve begun to share them on various social media platforms. It is also doing the function of making people aware of the potential that artificial intelligence and machine learning hold. However, to preserve safety, the service providers have warned people not to use a public figure’s image and make an animation without prior permission. A watermark has also been added to all the animations to clearly indicate that the image has been produced artificially and is not real. 

Nonetheless, MyHeritage’s primary business is to collect DNA samples and provide people with ancestry services. In the year 2018, a significant data breach took place, and the accounts of over 92 million users were left vulnerable. But the website clarified that the sensitive data of all the people, including their family trees, was secured and stored at a different place altogether, thereby protecting that data from potential hackers. While the feature is quite intriguing and has captured millions’ attention, people have their own set of hesitations attached to the website, given the security concerns.


Amreen Bawa is a consulting intern at MarktechPost. Along with pursuing BA Hons in Social Sciences from Panjab University, Chandigarh, she is also a keen learner and writer, having special interest in the application and scope of artificial intelligence in various facets of life.

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