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CHING MING FESTIVAL

How QR codes are adding a load more memory to loved ones' memorials

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 April, 2013, 11:07am

Some canny mainlanders have discovered a way to liven up their trips to the cemetery with a bit of modern technology.

Those visiting tombs of relatives during today's Ching Ming grave-sweeping festival may be surprised to see others at nearby graves huddled around a mobile phone, possibly shedding a tear - or having a good laugh.

Interactive memorials, featuring a simple QR (quick-response) code that can be scanned to access digital information, photos and even videos about a person, are finding a niche audience among the tech-savvy who may not want trips to the graves of friends and loved ones to be solely about quiet and sombre reflection.

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With the space on most headstones limited, QR codes allow access to a vast databank of memories and information about loved ones, or even complete strangers, via a simple scan.

Across the nation, more cemeteries are offering the option of placing matrix codes alongside, or in the place of, epitaphs.

Understandably, some folks, particularly the older generations, might express disapproval, even outrage, over the incorporation of logistics technology into memorials. But the voices of dissent are being matched, particularly by younger people, with strong interest.

The sales manager of the Jiufeng cemetery in Yinzhou district, Ningbo, told the South China Morning Post yesterday that they launched the service a few weeks ago, but it had already sparked debate among customers seeking a resting place for their loved ones.

We launched the service for the simple reason that we wanted to give customers a new option in the digital age. We didn't expect so much controversy

"We launched the service for the simple reason that we wanted to give customers a new option in the digital age. We didn't expect so much controversy," he said, declining to be named.

The matchbox-sized codes direct mobile phones to websites dedicated to the deceased. The sites are usually maintained by the cemetery for about 300 yuan (HK$370) a year. They can contain poetry, music, photos and videos, and may be accessed by the public or with a password.

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