Keeping a loved one's memories alive after their death isn't easy. That's why a group of designers has conceived the eTomb, a tombstone that would hold digital information about the deceased on a built-in server. Could this be an appropriate way for a generation that lives most of its life online to honor its dead, or is the idea just tasteless? Here's an instant guide to this hypothetical techno tombstone:
How exactly would an eTomb work?
The traditional-looking slab of stone would contain a server storing the departed's online "remains" (i.e., his or her Facebook page, blog or Twitter feed). When relatives or friends pay their respects, they'd be able to use their smartphones to access the information via Bluetooth. The device could also "act as a perpetual chat room," writes Stuart Fox at TechNewsDaily, "where loved ones and well-wishers could post reminiscences about the deceased."
Would it be connected to an electricity supply?
No. The eTomb would be powered by a solar battery embedded on the top of the grave. That ought to ensure the "dead remain eco-friendly in the afterlife," says Hans Villarica at Time.
Couldn't people leave abusive messages about the deceased?
A Bluetooth key would be embedded into a cross engraved on the front of the tomb, so that only family members would be able to edit content on the server and erase unwanted memorials.
Is this really an appropriate memorial for the dead?
It satisfies both traditionalists and futurists, says Aaron Saenz at Singularity Hub, in that it acts both as a "well recognized physical symbol" and an "online memorial." That said, it would be weird to see a "weeping widow whip out her phone so she can text her dearly departed: Sry Ur ded. GWHTLC. Kthx bai." But in an age where worshiping your ancestors is "largely passé," says TechNewsDaily's Fox, "this kind of memorial may be the best way to remind future generations about your mighty deeds, epic life, and that one time in college you got so wasted."
Is this the only technological way to upgrade your tombstone?
No. One company is already selling data tags you can affix to your beloved's tombstone, which allow iPhone users to post up to 1,000 words of prose about the deceased. While the eTomb is still a concept design, the granite data tags can be bought for just $225 each.