This is a quick and dirty update about DNA products and services at the MyHeritage LIVE conference, although increasingly, the line between DNA and rest of genealogy is entirely disappearing.
I spent most of day 1 in the DNA track, as you might imagine.
I’m trying to fit this article in between sessions and dinner so I apologize in advance for the brevity. I’m trying to provide you with the important information in a timely manner, so details and more photos will have to wait for another time.
Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage opened the conference and his keynote session was not only interesting, from a family history perspective, but also full of information about the future products and features.
The next sessions that I attended relative to DNA were:
- MyHeritage DNA 101 by Ran Snir, the DNA Product Manager
- MyHeritage DNA: Advanced Features, also by Ran
- What’s Next: The MyHeritage Genealogy and DNA Roadmap by Maya Lerner, VP Product
The announcements from the above sessions combined were:
- The MyHeritage DNA data base is now just under 2 million participants.
- Shared Ancestral Places: Live now. An interactive map of the location and significant life events (birth, death, etc.) of you and your matches. This would be particularly useful if you don’t know how you match, no common surname, but you discover that you both have ancestors in the same location, or close proximity. The locations are geocoded to avoid issues such as spelling and inconsistent data entry.
This map illustrates the shared ancestral locations of other people who match me and my match.
By clicking on the pin above, I can see the location of Oley, PA and without looking further, I can tell you which family line this is.
This feature is not yet on the mobile app, but it will be updated soon.
- Ancestor Reconstruction: Future feature. If multiple descendants of a particular ancestor test, MyHeritage will create a “kit” for your ancestor and combine the segments from the multiple descendants identified as originating with that ancestor. I have lots of questions about this feature, such as how other ancestors DNA would be eliminated, such as the wives of ancestors for starters. I’ll see if I can obtain clarification. Gilad referred to this as “painting,” but I’m not sure that this feature is painting in the way we think of DNAPainting – so I would not jump the conclusion that it is. What Gilad actually said was that MyHeritage was creating a tool to provide the reconstructed DNA of ancestors.
- Envelopes and Stamps: Soon. MyHeritage is partnering with a third party (unnamed) firm to extract DNA from envelopes and stamps. The results will used to create a kit for that ancestor at MyHeritage. Cost was not discussed. Multiple extracted samples can be combined to create one more robust kit.
- This technique will also be used to add the DNA of famous people to their database. Gilad did state in the examples of the people he discussed that they did not have any direct relatives, so he is cognizant of this ethical “brave new world.”
- X chromosomal information will be added soon.
- Maternal/paternal side match indicators will be added soon. Beta product shown.
- Mass segment triangulation: Future. Gilad was asked about mass triangulation, and he stated that they were working on “something even better,” and someone else later added that they were going to do mass triangulations on specific segments.
- Theory of Family Relativity. Future but under development. When you receive a new match, you will be able, based on the DNA segments PLUS all available and relevant records to view different theories of how this person might fit into your tree. Multiple theories may be shown to the user. Each theory will be presented to the user with a confidence level ranking.
- Ethnicity update is coming next year. It will be more refined and include more areas. MyHeritage in their Tribal Quest program has been visiting people in remote or isolated locations, helping them to preserve their family stories and sampling their DNA as well. This helps MyHeritage to build reference models against which to compare their customer’s DNA for ethnicity predictions.