Bar Codes on Tombstones That Connect the Living to the Dead

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Photo: Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette

One day, Glenn Toothman's father, a retired judge, stopped by for a visit. His dad had been spending the day in the cemetery (for reasons the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette would like to remain secret), ostensibly staring at tombstones of loved ones past, and got to thinking about the mark that comes between the year someone is born and the year someone died. "I hate to think that life comes down to this dash," he told his son. (This is one of the many reasons we are getting cremated. Rotting is another.) But ol' Glenny boy, a "frustrated electronic engineer," was more industrious. Enter the Memory Medallion. For $225 for a standard package, you can install a bar code where the dash would be, and with a wave of one's smartphone, access photos, biographies, or even a video about the deceased. The device uses a QR code — popular in Japan. While this invention reeks of the future (sort of a plastic-y non-smell that makes you lightheaded and then tired), Tootham actually started shopping the idea around funeral-industry conferences years ago. "Nothing in the death-care business happens too quickly."

Lives of the dead come to life on tombstones [Post-Gazette via Pat's Papers]