Sometimes you find a fantastic little online tool that blows your mind and can change your life. And this is one of them.
A new site called Colourise.sg uses deep learning artificial intelligence to smartly colourise your old photos in seconds. It was developed in Singapore by the Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Division at GovTech (Government Technology Agency of Singapore). It's completely free to use. Go to the site, and you'll see a homepage that asks you to upload any photo you’d like to have colourised.
It recommends you try photos with human subjects and nature. It then generates an image with colours that are plausible. Keep in mind it doesn't guarantee that the colourised image is an accurate representation. But we tried it with several black-and-white photos and were immediately impressed with the results. The colours added by the service's AI certainly look plausible and realistic to us.
We were able to download the new colourised photo by itself, as well as a comparison image of both the black and white photo and the colourised one side by side. We really liked doing the latter, as it's easier to see how good of a job the site does. Colourise's approach is unique because the AI behind it was trained with a 1.3-million-photo dataset, called ImageNet. It was developed for old Singaporean photos.
Your results will vary, but overall, you will be amazed. You can try your own personal family photos or famous shots of celebrities from way back in the day. It doesn't matter. There are no restrictions. Also, if you're wondering about privacy, the site promises to not store your images or use them for anything.
For a more in-depth explainer of the science behind Colourise and how it works, see this article on Medium.