MyHeritage's LiveStory Lets Your Dead Relatives Tell You About Themselves
The genealogy company rolls out a feature that animates pictures of deceased relatives so it looks like they're narrating their life story.
Abrar Al-HeetiTechnology Reporter
Abrar Al-Heeti is a technology reporter for CNET, with an interest in phones, streaming, internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. She's also worked for CNET's video, culture and news teams. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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Genealogy company MyHeritage launched a feature last year called Deep Nostalgia, which animates pictures of deceased loved ones so it looks like they're nodding, smiling or dancing. Now it's rolling out an update called LiveStory, which animates a person's face and mouth so it looks like they're talking and telling their life story. That means you can watch grandma tell you about where she was born and how she met grandpa, and see accompanying photos of their wedding, home and kids as she speaks.
Watch this: MyHeritage's LiveStory Feature Lets Relatives 'Talk' in Old Pictures
To use the LiveStory feature, you'll need to create an account on the MyHeritage website or app, which is available on the App Store or Google Play. Next, you can upload pictures and write text for the AI animation to read. You can choose from 31 different languages, over a dozen dialects and 152 different synthetic voices.
If you happen to have a family tree through MyHeritage, you can create a LiveStory from the photos that are already there. Using the information on file, LiveStory will automatically generate a narrated video with a synthetic voice generator. You'll have the option to customize the video by adding pictures or editing the text.
After that, you'll be able to watch, download and share the LiveStory video with friends and family or post it on social media. You'll get a handful of free uses, but to get unlimited access to LiveStory, you'll need to upgrade to a MyHeritage Complete plan, which costs $240 a year.
If you're like me, you may be thinking that It's only a matter of time before someone misuses this to make someone say something lewd or offensive. Well, the company has thought that through and implemented what it calls "ethical guardrails." When people create their first LiveStory, they'll see a pop-up that says, "1. I understand that the LiveStory will be created using an AI-based lip sync technology and that it is intended for use for deceased individuals only," and "2. Any LiveStory I create will not include any obscene, offensive, defamatory or false information, or any content which could violate the privacy of other people." Here's hoping people stick to that.
The feature was created through a collaboration with startup D-ID, which uses AI and deep learning to create these video reenactments.
Despite the slight creepiness of LiveStory, Gil Perry, D-ID CEO and co-founder, says he's not too worried about backlash.
"I think most of the people would want to try it and want to use it again and again, because it's really nice," Perry said. "It's Harry Potter-izing the world."