Oct. 4 - Digital technology is about to give Austrian gravestones the potential to speak across time by showing pictures and biographies of the people buried below. Matt Cowan reports.
It's the last place you'd expect to experience interactive media - the graveyard. But a company in one small Austrian town has come up with a novel way of remembering lost loved ones... Aspetos is etching so-called Quick Response codes into gravestones...meaning anyone with a smartphone - and proper authorization - will be able to unlock a treasure trove of memories simply by scanning the code. Project leader Joerg Bauer says they ultimate aim is to help people better deal with their grief. SOUNDBITE: Joerg Bauer, Apetos Project Leader saying (German) : "On the one hand we offer psychological assistance directly through our web portal, and on the other hand we want to create memories, and we want to imprint those memories on graves in the form of QR codes, through which this content and memories can be accessed by family, friends, or colleagues." QR codes are used widely in advertising and media. These ones will go 'live' in a matter of weeks, but ensuring they don't fade with time has its challenges says stonemason Timothy Vince. SOUNDBITE: Timothy C. Vincent, Stonemason, saying (German): "The most important thing is that this is durable, the QR code cannot be destroyed or rubbed off. So we use grid blasting, to put the information that the QR code contains - the QR code itself is a pixelated square - onto stone, glass, or metal, whatever our customer prefers." This new virtual dimension to that unavoidable reality offers customers the opportunity to craft how their loved ones will be remembered. SOUNDBITE: Joerg Bauer, Apetos Project Leader saying (German) : "They can use different technologies to save data for future generations in a way that's disaster-proof. This data can include picture galleries, videos, documents, the funeral eulogy, the obituary, and so on." Vienna's central cemetery is the site of Beethoven's grave and a monument honouring Mozart. There are no current plans to tag these landmarks with QR codes, but should that eventually happen it would surely change the experience of paying respects. That famous line from Gladiator: what you do in life echoes in eternity, seems all the more true now with the rise of QR codes and smartphones. Matt Cowan, Reuters