LONDON Summing up the life of a dearly departed relative with just a terse description etched in stone may become a thing of the past with the introduction of interactive codes on gravestones.
One funeral company in the southern English town of Poole is offering to add quick response (QR) codes to headstones which will link smartphones to online memorials illustrated with pictures, videos and contributions from family and friends.
Chester Pearce funeral directors said QR barcodes enable visitors to learn a lot more about the person buried beneath gravestones than the age, dates of birth and death and the odd biblical passage or literary quote usually written on them.
"It's about keeping people's memories alive in different ways," managing director Stephen Nimmo told Reuters.
"When you lose somebody, whether it be suddenly or ongoing, you can really struggle with things. Talking about them is very important, keeping their memory going is very important and this is just an add-on to that."
QR codes, a barcode that can be scanned with smartphones or QR scanners, allow users to pull up information on the internet and are frequently used in advertising and marketing campaigns.
"It's a new technology, it's something that there will be people who like it, there will be people who don't and that's the same in everything that we do," Nimmo said.
He said he has seen demand growing for QR codes as they catch the imagination of the public.
Chester Pearce charge about 300 pounds to create a code that can also be placed on gravestones, benches, trees or plaques and is linked to a page on their QR Memories website.
Gill Tuttiet, 53, was one of the first customers in Poole to use the technology for her late husband Timothy.
"Tim was quite outward-going and game for anything. I think this is the way forward and Tim would have wanted that, and it's making a process that's hard possibly easier," Tuttiet said.
The website linked to the code shows a profile of the departed, pictures, videos and tributes from family and friends.
Close friends and family given a password are also able to add personal messages of their own.
"We've all got a story to tell," Nimmo said.
(Reporting by Li-mei Hoang, editing by Paul Casciato)