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With A Gravestone Barcode, Tomorrow Never Dies

Wanted Media
Gravestone barcodes can now link visitors to the photos, videos and voices of the dead.

The latest trend in gravestones is to change “here lies” to “here links.” Barcodes much like the ones being slapped on advertisements and billboards are being affixed to headstones to provide mourners ways to connect with the dead online. Forget-me-nots and pansies may wilt, but websites live forever.

After scanning or photographing the “QR” code with a cell phone, people can instantly connect with a website tribute page for a loved one, showing all their favorite music, memories, photographs and videos. Some even include playlists of the deceased’s most beloved songs on iTunes. Aaron Sorensen, a chemist and engineer from Salt Lake City, Utah, bought a barcode for his grandparent’s dual gravestone Alva and Virgie Sorensen, and for the benefit of their 21 grandchildren: “It’s a tribute to them to remember the sacrifices they made to give me a better life.”

These “living memorials” are the next step in the so-called Internet footprint that most of us will leave behind. They even made the Doonesbury cartoon strip on October 16. (It says: “Welcome to the Digital Afterlife of Daisy Doonesbury.” Wisely, Daisy has a “monitored” comments page because in life she had a lot of “frenemies.”) But people buy them when they are planning their own funeral, too. Gravestone barcodes allow people to be the editorial director of their own online obituary, long before their corpse is in the hands of a funeral director. There’s also the option to share stories from beyond the grave and provide your family’s genealogy for strangers.

The barcodes were only recently made possible with the marriage of smartphones, QR barcodes and websites. David Quiring, president of Quiring Monuments in Seattle, Wa., charges $65, but says they now come free with any monument. Hudson Gunn, president of Code_It Barcodes in Orem, Utah, is in talks with national cemeteries and war memorials. “Demand has been phenomenal,” he says. He charges $50 for a barcode, which is secured to the gravestone by adhesive, and hosts the tribute page on his own server for free. And if he closes? “Heaven forbid,” he says. “In that case we’ll give families all the information.”

Most demand is national, but companies say they’ve also sold hundreds of barcodes to Asia, Australia and Europe, too. (One man in Ireland just bought six from Gunn.) Sorensen says his grandfather Alva took part in the Normandy landings during World War II when 95% of his platoon died; his grandmother Virgie was one of the longest living patients (28 years) with a kidney transplant. They both died in their 70s in 1999. What would they think? “They were very humble,” he says, “but they were big on family and this keeps the memories of those who have been great influence in our lives alive.”

See more video on living headstones here.

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    • I have one question. How can these barcodes work for generations? Computer technology morphs into all new technology in just a few years, so how can we expect that someone 100 years from now will still have commonly owned devices that will read these old barcodes on headstones? How does one keep a web site up and running for generations?

      I think this is an excellent concept but the reality is that as technology advances these barcodes will become obsolete and they will be as useful as if morris code telegraph machines has been put on headstones in the 1800s. This is the one big problem this product must find a way to overcome before they can be considered a reliable product that will deliver the deceased’s information for generations to come.

    • i dont know what everyone is on about, the alticre doesnt say anything about QR codes having ACTUALLY been exploited. sure there is motivation to put malware into QR codes, there is motivation to put malware into everything, the question isnt would people like to its can it be done QR codes have a very small window of text (about 4k at it highest with very little redundancy) 2k of binary and while you could make a program that reads them with nearly no checking or proper memory allocation that could be weak to exploit, it would also be a poor parser and not likely to be very widespread in its use.the uses of QR codes are very limited, the parsing very well defined, malware seems very unlikely.until new things are added to QR, from time to time new protocols are built on top of QR (like the market: tag for things on the android market) that is about the only place malware could get in, a poor protocol specification.

    • Mike: Lots of people have suppertod your decision to just kick back and make music from here on…..but please let me respectively add a caveat. Remember what often happens when people retire, especially hard-working people such as yourself. Sometimes they go downhill rather fast, if they don’t remain engaged in the wider world in some way. I add this because I just saw it happen with my brother-in-law, who once retired, thought he would just indulge his love of bicyclce racing. It didn’t work out that way, and now he’s gone at 60. My sister witnessed the depression and aimlessness that gradually set in. I’m not trying to discourage you from enjoying your loves in life, but just to remain aware of some other aspects of life you may need.

    • Hi, Neat post. There’s a problem with your wsiebte in internet explorer, would check this… IE still is the market leader and a large portion of people will miss your magnificent writing due to this problem.

    • This is a great idea. I started a company called GraveData dot com. We provide QR code grave markers at a reasonable cost. This service has many uses. My brother was killed in a hit & run. A QR code grave marker will tell the story and ask anyone with information to contact the Michigan State Police.

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