Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

MyHeritage deep fakes family photos into living memories

Your family history is probably in photographs of the past, but thanks to machine learning and an app, they could be somewhat living once again.

Technology can do some remarkable things, but one of the more unusual ones in recent years may be the field of deep fakes. It’s a technology concept you’d have probably heard of whereby machine learning connects with visual imagery to join the dots and get one image to resemble a next, often in video.

It’s what happens when the face of one person is matched to the scene or video of another, and has been found used across the world in various ways, from news to ads to film and art.

And now, it’s being used with family photos, as a family history app and service connects the world of deep fake technology to family photos, giving them some life and reanimating their imagery.

That’s a technology rolling across the MyHeritage service, with the release of “Deep Nostalgia” a feature that basically enhances the image by using machine learning to match movements to new faces, and in turn reanimates the photo to make the person seem almost real.

The video in question have been built by MyHeritage, of which there are about ten of, and these are used to direct the movements of the photos, effectively using computer learning and AI to make moving heads from photos. They can blink and smile, and often are a little more than merely mildly animated heads, but something that can feel real, almost creepily so.

The technology being used comes from D-ID, an Israeli company that has developed facial recognition technology that can make someone else’s image take over the face of someone speaking in a video, with MyHeritage using a similar process to kind of animate flat images of individuals. It means you can essentially upload an image of someone, and the deep fake technology will create a video of that person mimicking facial movements, but without a voice.

In a way, it’s a little like taking a video of someone from an old photo, but without sound. As if you caught a video from the time, standing behind the camera, but without a soundtrack.

The concept is free to try and experience, up to a certain point, used through the “MyHeritage” app available on iOS and Android. Essentially, you can upload a few photos and animate them using the Deep Nostalgia feature for a few, until it MyHeritage asks you to pay for its service, which is over $300 for a year’s worth of access, making it not exactly an inexpensive app.

However we can definitely see people dabbling with the technology, at least until they decide whether it’s worth their time. While relatively pricey, it does bring an aspect of deep fakes to something a touch more personal, and may return some family members to some form of life, or at least connect younger members with relatives they’ve never known much about.

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