QR Codes on Gravestones to Access Memorials

Walking through a cemetery is often eerie and rather uncomfortable, especially knowing there were people who lost their lives and were buried in the ground beneath you. It’s not unusual to wonder about those who are deceased and what their stories were. When looking at gravestones you know their names and their life span, but who were they really? What did they do with their lives and what were they known for. Soon these questions will be answered with as little as a scan of your cell phone.

QR codes, the two-dimensional barcodes that have grown to be extremely popular over the past few years, are making their way now onto gravestones. Starting in the UK and quickly moving to America, gravestone producers are offering the addition of QR codes to direct those interested to an interactive memorial for the person who has died.

These interactive memorials can include anything from pictures, videos and contributions from family and friends. There are even people now who are creating their own memorials so that they can structure how it’s laid out and how they’re remembered.

Imagine being able to structure what people see in your memorial, what your last thoughts were and what messages you’d like to send to family and friends. This also creates easy access to family tree information, making it much easier than digging for birth records in the future.

Of course with new technology such as this, there are bound to be challenges. The idea of putting a QR code on a structure that’s made to last for hundreds of years creates a number of difficulties. You can go to any graveyard and see how different recent gravestones look compared to stones that are hundreds of years old. As a gravestone weathers and changes over time, a QR code can become much more difficult to read and scan. Textures like sandstone and granite will change and the codes you have etched into them will change as well.

Another challenge you run into with adding these codes to gravestones is the technology itself. While the QR code technology has been around for a couple decades already, it’s never a sure thing that it will be around in another 10 to 20 years. With technology always evolving, another two-dimensional technology could replace the QR code, making the current QR codes obsolete and unreadable.

By creating a memorial for someone online, this creates another issue regarding the website URL. With the Internet constantly evolving, URL technology could very well change within the next several decades. This puts you at risk of losing all of these records over time. While the current technology appears to be here to stay, you never know what the future holds for us and what advancements will be made to completely change the way we do things today.

The idea of preparing for your own death may be morbid, but it’s a reasonable thought process. Rather than being remembered for a tragic accident, a health condition, etc, why not shape exactly how you want to be remembered and implement that as an interactive memorial. This way, the next time someone’s walking through a graveyard and sees the QR code on your gravestone, they have the opportunity to learn about who you really were, not just when you passed away.

Patricia Goldbum is a freelance writer focusing on technology. As a business owner, Patricia has just implemented barcode stickers and labeling to stay on track and keep her business organized.

Branding, Part One: Design by Dunkin’

A Brief History of Branding: Ancient Times
It may come as a great surprise to other present day design professionals, as it did to me, that the branding and marketing industry has been around for thousands of years. Documentation exists as far back as 2700 B.C with examples of oxen hieroglyphics depicted on Egyptians tombs indicating ownership by the deceased.

The History of Tartans
In the 1500’s, woven woolen cloth, known as tartans, are believed to be derived from the French word ‘tiretaine’. They identified the geographic area from which a person came. Later, these fabric patterns became affiliated with families or clans, which is how we primarily know them today. Tartans are attributed to Scotland but also existed and still exist in Britain, Ireland, North America and in numerous other countries around the world. Some tartans were even created as late as the 20th Century. Societies, institutions, philanthropists and organizations inspired these.

World Tartans

World Tartans, book by Iain Zaczek

Livestock Branding
The original intent of livestock branding was to identify ownership, to be ‘a visible and permanent mark’ to distinguish between what was yours and what was mine. It was a clear-cut way to prevent theft as well as a simple way to identify and return lost livestock to its proper owner. Branding of cattle is still used in the same way today.

Cattle branding

'Ouch! That's some way to get a name'. Picture source identified at end of blog post.

Branding and Marketing in the Food Industry: Three Phases
Over time, branding has evolved into an indispensable marketing and advertising tool applied to a great extent, but not exclusively, to the food industry. As such, it has existed since the late 1800’s, a mere sliver of the total time line pie in branding history.

Culinary Ephemira

Food Marketing and Branding. Picture source at end of post.

Commercial food branding has gone through three phases. But for the purposes of this article, they will not be described in detail other than to distinguish their periods, “the fragmentation phase (before 1870–1880), the unification phase (1880–1950), and the segmentation phase (1950 and later).” These are referred to with the source credit below. In addition, the ‘4P’ marketing theory is listed below.

History of Food Production

The History of Modern Food Production credited in the sources below.

I Want It and I Want It Now!
Present day branding has brought the science of marketing and the art of branding full circle. A brand with the proper marketing can now be known for instant product recognition. The goal of this immediate recognition is the advent of instantaneous acquisition and consumption.

Seamless Retail Experience

The Seamless Digital Retail Experience. Credit unkown.

The Seamless Digital Retail Experience
The purpose of the type of branding that identifies livestock is called, ‘what’s mine is mine’. But in retail, it is now ‘what’s yours is mine’ and ‘make it mine now’. This is becoming imperative and possible. Recognition through branding and acquisition through digital technology and online marketing make this process closer to seamless on a daily basis.

With the evolving technologies of near field communication, local mobile fusion, radio frequency identification, QR code generation and identification, retailers are becoming able to make us offers we can no longer refuse. There is almost no time to reconsider offers as they become digitally seamless and irresistible.

I Want it now

I Want It and I Want It Now. Credit Flickr jpg.

In Conclusion
When done well using the art of marketing and science of branding, the result of immediate recognition is now approaching ‘0’ time between recognizing,  purchasing and consuming. With the continually growing addition of new technology, this process is getting even faster and the gap is lessening to the point where our wishes will be the digital genie’s immediate command. I want it; you have it; I see it; I got it. Just like that!

A Short Video Visit to One of the Best Examples of Branding Today
I consider Dunkin’ Donuts (Dunkin’ not Duncan and yes there is a Duncan tartan has no relation to the retailer’s brand or history), to be one of the best examples of branding and marketing in the US today. Watch this short video and let me know what you think. Future articles will continue to explore the fascinating topics of digital, brands and marketing.

World Tartans by Iain Zaczek (Image #1)
A Brief History of Cattle Brands (Image #2)
Culinary Ephemera, An Illustrated History (Image #3)
Food Marketing (Image #4)
A Brief History of Branding
A Visual History of Cookery

Digital Media Monthly

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