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Digital Tombstone Brings the Dead Back to Life

Death is eternal—but cemeteries are changing with the times

smithsonian.com

A seemingly timeless way of honoring the dead is changing, reports Reuters: A historic cemetery in Maribor, Slovenia, is now installing tombstones with interactive digital screens.

At first blush, the weatherproof, vandal-proof tombstones may look like normal tombstones, but when you stand in front of one it shows pictures, video and other information about the deceased person on a 48-inch interactive screen. Reuters reports that they cost over $3,100 and are installed with sensors that light the screens up only when they're’s being viewed, saving energy and helping them blend in with the rest of the cemetery.

While the technology to do something like this has been around, reports about video screens embedded in other tombstones often note that there have been no takers. That’s not the case in Slovenia: Reuters reports that “a few” orders for the product have already been made.

As Kirstin Fawcett notes for mental_floss, this isn’t the first high-tech innovation that’s made its way to gravestones lately. QR codes, which are more common in grocery stores or on signs, are being used to lead grieving guests to interactive memorials in Anchorage, Alaska.

Japan—that mecca of over-the-top technology—might just take the cake when it comes to electronic cemeteries. As Emiko Jozuka recently reported for Motherboard, futuristic memorials are gaining popularity with the help of smart cards, conveyor belts and artistically lit Buddhas.

Is the world ready to be confronted with life stories of the dead when they walk through a cemetery? In a way, the carvings on gravestones—and the ceramic memorial portraits that have appeared on some graves since the 19th century—already tell those tales to those willing to look for them. As times change, burial traditions will, too. But high-tech headstone or no, there’s no tech that can help future graveyard residents outrun death.

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