Make Your Ancestors Smile

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Machine learning is bringing old photos to life.
What’s new: A new service from genealogy company MyHeritage lets users animate their ancestors’ portraits, making them smile, blink, and turn their heads.
How it works: A MyHeritage account is required to use the service, called Deep Nostalgia. A free account allows users to animate five images, while paying customers can animate an unlimited number.

  • Deep Nostalgia accepts an uploaded photo and boosts its resolution.
  • It passes the photo to D-ID Live Portrait, which modifies its pixels to match motions in a pre-recorded video.
  • The service offers several videos in which a person turns their head, blinks, and smiles. Users can choose one or apply one selected automatically to suit the uploaded face’s orientation.

Behind the news: This is just the latest way AI is helping amateur archivists bring the past to life.

  • MyHeritage also licenses DeOldify, a system that uses deep learning to colorize black-and-white photos.
  • Denis Shiryaev, a researcher who uses neural networks to colorize archival video footage as previously featured in The Batch, brought his technology to the market via a company called Neural Love.

Why it matters: Seeing your ancestors come alive, even for a few seconds, is a powerful emotional experience — and possibly a lucrative market niche.
We’re thinking: We look forward to a day when our great-grandkids can turn our cell phone videos into haptic holographic projections.

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