'Deep Nostalgia': MyHeritage now allows you to animate old photos using deepfake technology

See old images come to life with this AI-enabled synthetic media

Soon the walls of your home could look more like the hallways of Hogwarts, thanks to genealogy service MyHeritage's new Deep Nostalgia feature.

The AI-enabled synthetic media tool allows users to upload a photo of a person and see that individual's face animated by an algorithm. Once-static images are now brought to life, as the heads move around, eyes blink and facial expressions change.

This is the magic of deepfakes and the pull of seeing past and present loved ones revived through imagery has seen a spike in social shares since the feature was revealed this week at a family history conference.

The National had a play with the tool and here are the results.

See Lebanese singer Fairuz, real name Nouhad Wadie' Haddad, in all her heyday glory:

Elvis Presley was all shook up:

We even animated a young Queen Elizabeth II:

Jazz great Louis Armstrong was brought back to this wonderful world:

My Fair Lady star Audrey Hepburn reprised her role as an on-screen legend:

And here's Marilyn Monroe reminding us all of her famous quote: "Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring."

While it is an impressive feature, which is powered by Israeli company D-ID, best known for creating technology to digitally de-identify faces, concerns have been expressed surrounding MyHeritage's agenda. The company's core business is to sell DNA tests, after all.

It's free to animate your photos using this tool, but you have to give over some data – at least an email – and agree to its terms and conditions, and privacy policy, in order to do so. Its policies, however, have stirred up controversies over the years, reports TechCrunch.

For example, in 2020, the Norwegian Consumer Council reported MyHeritage to the national consumer and data protection authorities as it believed the firm was taking "unlawfully excessive liberties with people's sensitive data".

In 2018, MyHeritage reported more than 92 million user accounts were exposed in a data breach and, later, data from that breach was reportedly found for sale on the dark web.

So, while it is undoubtedly a cool tool, anyone concerned about handing over their data so easily to such a giant commercial entity may want to think twice before reanimating an old friend.