QR Codes in…Cemeteries?

You have seen them. They look a little weird. The black and white pixilated boxes are popping up in the strangest places. They are called QR codes and you might be surprised by what they are being used for. QR codes are a type of barcode that can hold large amounts of data, much more than traditional barcodes are capable of.

When you see a QR code all you have to do is take out your smart phone, activate your QR code reader and get to work. Just by pointing your camera at the code your reader will begin a scan and you will be redirected to whatever was coded in that little box. You might land on a URL or see a video or even hear an audio segment that has something to do with where the code was placed. 

 QR codes have been used for some time in business and are fairly common in retail. They may contain information that is designed to encourage you to visit a certain place of business or to shop on a particular website. If you do these things through the link from the code you could receive a discount or promotion that is not available to everyone. Codes are used to distribute data in a way that is easy for busy people to take advantage of. Stores, subways, restaurants, theaters, magazines and billboards are all common places to find a QR code.

How about the cemetery? Why would there be a need for a QR code in a cemetery and who would be interested? Oddly enough we are beginning to see these codes on grave markers. QR codes were originated in Japan approximately 20 years ago. So it comes as no real surprise that a Japanese manufacturer of gravestones began producing headstones with QR code technology in 2008. The concept is called Kuyou no Mado which basically translates as Memorial Service Window. More recently the technology has made its way to companies that provide headstones in the United States.

While a grave marker may be an unusual use of technology there is, indeed, a purpose. Visitors to a cemetery could scan the QR code with their mobile device and learn something about the person interred in that spot. Background information such as where they were born, the job that they held and who their family members are could be included. It is also possible that the code might contain photos of the deceased or an audio version of the eulogy performed at the funeral service.

The fact that QR code technology does not have licensing fees makes it an inexpensive way to memorialize your loved one. Because QR codes are considered simple technology it is likely that the codes will remain readable for generations to come. This, too, adds to the appeal of their use as a means of remembering those who have passed on. Technology changes the way we approach the world. This particular advance may change the manner in which we stay close to the dead.