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MyHeritage introduces Reimagine, an AI app for scanning, repairing and even animating old photos


AI is impacting photography, ranging from tools for professionals like Adobe Photoshop’s new generative AI to consumer tools like Google Photos’ forthcoming Magic Editor. Now genealogy company MyHeritage is turning to AI to make it easier for families to preserve their memories with the launch of its latest app, Think again. The main focus of the new mobile app is to help users easily import printed photos stored in albums and then update them by improving their resolution, correcting scratches and creases, and even restoring color in black and white photos and animate faces – the latter, a technique that went viral in previous years with the launch of “Deep Nostalgia” by MyHeritage.

Reimagine builds on that technology by combining it with other photo editing tools designed specifically for preserving old photos.

To use the app, which is available for both iOS And Android, take pictures of the pages of your old photo albums. The app identifies the individual photos and automatically crops and saves them as standalone images. After scanning, you can also add more details such as names, dates, and places to make them easier to find.

You can also scan individual photos, in case you have a collection in a shoebox somewhere, and upload photos from your phone’s camera roll, the company says.

Image Credits: My heritage

The scanning aspect of the app isn’t groundbreaking, though: Google launched its own old photo scanner, PhotoScan, in 2016, which offered similar technology for uploading images from old photo albums, including glare removal.

MyHeritage’s multi-page scanner, meanwhile, has been developed by its own AI team and is exclusive to its app.

Where MyHeritage wants to differentiate itself from competitors is with its broader AI-powered feature set. This includes the ability to restore faded colors, repair scratches, improve resolution, turn old photos into animations with Deep Nostalgia, and add narration.

The photo enhancement tools — including faded color fixes, scratch fixes, and resolution enhancements — use technology exclusively licensed by MyHeritage De-agea technology developed by deep learning experts Jason Antic and Dana Kelley.

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Image Credits: My heritage

For animation, MyHeritage previously partnered with Tel Aviv startup D-ID to create Deep Nostalgia, the proprietary video reenactment technology powered by AI and deep learning that brings old photos to life. Among other things, the technique touched the hearts of many who had lost relatives or never got to know relatives who had died before they were born, and soon the MyHeritage app as well went viral on TikTok. While there is something unsettling about bringing the dead back to life, the technology itself has been an impressive feat at times.

Later, MyHeritage expanded Deep Nostalgia to also allow users to add narration to their animated photos so that the people in the photos could actually speak and tell their stories.

Now these two features are just one part of a wider set of tools for editing and enhancing old photos with Reimagine.

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Image Credits: My heritage

“Since launching our first AI photo feature more than three years ago, MyHeritage has revolutionized the way consumers interact with their family photos,” said Gilad Japhet, founder and CEO of MyHeritage, in a statement announcing the launch. “Photos are an important gateway to the exciting world of family history, and as our suite of photo tools has expanded, we’ve decided to develop Reimagine, a dedicated family photo app that encourages new audiences to capture and bring their family memories to life. . Memories are best enjoyed when you can share them with your loved ones, and Reimagine makes it easy to relive your precious moments together.”

Since the app has only just been launched, we haven’t been able to fully test it yet. But in some short tests (using some of my grandmother’s old photos), we found that in most cases the app generally lived up to its claims of being able to enhance and enhance photos. One issue we found, however, is that when a light source caused a glare on the printed image, the AI ​​was unable to correct that in one case.

The results weren’t quite as crisp as the company’s own images, in terms of touch-ups and corrections, but they were still pretty impressive given the blurry mess we scanned:

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Image Credits: Sarah Perez/Screenshot from the Reimagine app

Staining also worked in these short tests, although this is an area that needs further investigation before we can make a recommendation. (As you may recall, Google once promised to launch a colorization feature for black and white photos in Google Photos, but then backed off, saying: it still had work to do because the colors weren’t accurate.) However, MyHeritage has been using this technology since early 2020, when it announced a Colorize feature for the users of the platform.

In the details shared with the press, Reimagine’s color feature is described as a “color restoration” feature. That is, it does not try to simulate the color of black and white photos, but is designed to restore the colors of photos from the 1950s and 1960s that were originally shot in color but have faded over the years.

“This gives you the chance to relive your favorite moments from the pre-digital photography days,” explains a company spokesperson. “With color restoration, you get the authentic colors revived in seconds and there are no guesses in the process. As a bonus, color restoration also makes photos sharper and more detailed.”

The color restoration technology was also licensed exclusively by MyHeritage from DeOldify, they noted.

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Image Credits: Sarah Perez/Screenshot from the Reimagine app

The company notes that it uses AI ethically, as it adds watermarks to photos manipulated by AI to ensure “transparency and respect for the original content,” the company told us.

The new Reimagine app is free to download and use, but monetizes through weekly and monthly subscriptions that unlock unlimited access to photo scanning, colorization, enhancement, and other features. The weekly subscription costs $7.99 or you can prepay for a year for $49.99.

The app will be offered in 11 languages ​​at launch, including English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Portuguese (Brazil), Swedish, Norwegian, Italian and Finnish. More languages ​​will be added in the future, the company says.

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