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Creepy or clever? New photo-animating AI promises to bring your old relatives to life

MyHeritgage Deep Nostalgia photo-animating AI
(Image credit: MyHeritage)

Online genealogy company MyHeritage has a new tool that can help bring your family history to... life. Sort of.

Deep Nostalgia is a new AI-powered tool that can animate still photos of people by adding simple effects like smiles, nods and blinks. It can add movement to any old photograph, and is free to try, as long as you create an account with MyHeritage. 

After uploading a photograph of a loved one, it's processed through the AI which adds a set of animations based on facial expressions of MyHeritage employees. The result – available in 10-20 seconds – is presented to you in the form of a very short video clip or gif.

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The AI has been licensed from Israeli company D-ID (which stands for 'de-identification') and is currently only capable of animating people's faces. Even multiple faces in a single photograph can be brought to life.

Whether the idea of bringing dead relatives to life is brilliant or creepy is, perhaps for you to decide. Even MyHeritage admits this can be polarizing.

"Some people love the Deep Nostalgia feature and consider it magical," MyHeritage states in the FAQ section on its Deep Nostalgia 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."

Gone viral

Deep Nostalgia went viral on Twitter over the weekend, with people keen on bringing their deceased loved ones to life. Some, however, took it a step further and tried it on photographs of historical statues... with some interesting results.

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If you'd like to try this out for yourself, head to the Deep Nostalgia website and set up a free account. You can upload up to five photos for free, but any more will require you to get a paid account. If you already have a Complete subscription with MyHeritage, you can use the service at no additional cost and upload unlimited photographs.

If you're worried about privacy, MyHeritage says it doesn't share photos with third parties and, as mentioned on the Deep Nostalgia's homepage, "photos uploaded without completing signup are automatically deleted to protect your privacy". 

Sharmishta Sarkar

Sharmishta is TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor and loves all things photography, something she discovered while chasing monkeys in the wilds of India (yes, she studied to be a primatologist but has since left monkey business behind). While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, she's also an avid reader and has become a passionate proponent of ereaders, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about the convenience of these underrated devices. When she's not testing cameras and lenses, she's discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos. She also contributes to Digital Camera World and T3, and helps produce two of Future's photography print magazines in Australia.