Dearly departed recalled with virtual memorial

Mourners will soon be able to scan a bar code on graves to access a virtual memorial of lost loved ones.

The Quick Response code, or QR code - a small chequerboard pattern commonly used in advertising - will enable grieving friends and family to swipe the grave with a smart phone to trigger memories and images of their dearly departed.

Armen Mikaelian, the national general manager of publicly listed InvoCare, which has 14 cemeteries and crematoria in Australia, said the company would introduce the service in Sydney in coming months.

''The reality is we could do it today, we have got a manufacturer on board in Melbourne to do it but we have got to train our staff about how to tell the client about it,'' he said.

''The technology is here. The most advanced ones are made of bronze, which doesn't deteriorate and can be embedded into a bronze plaque.

''There is only a limited amount of space for information on a memorial plaque so the virtual memorial offers the opportunity to provide more information, such as what the person did for a job and more pictures and videos.''

Mr Mikaelian said the QR code could be linked to the company's virtual memorial website, HeavenAddress, where a friend could put in a message or light a virtual candle, so the family knew when someone had visited the grave.

Close family would retain complete control of the virtual memorial. If anyone posted a comment they did not like, they could delete it.

The service, including the bronze QR code, is expected to cost about $400-500.

Stephen Nimmo, the managing director of the first British funeral business to provide the service, said: ''I am a very traditional funeral director but using this technology is a positive way to help remember people. People often wander around cemeteries and look at gravestones and wonder who that person was. By using the QR codes they can find out.''

George Passas, the president of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Association of NSW, expected that the take-up rate of such a service would initially be slow.

It might suit those with a profile, such as sportspeople or politicians, where the virtual memorial could chronicle that individuals's public life and achievements, Mr Passas said.

''But remember, we are dealing with the private interests of a family in the early stages of grief,'' he said.

''This would be inviting everyone in to share that life and I suspect families wanting to do that might be rare.''

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