I’m a fan of technology, and I like getting and playing with the latest gadgets. But this is a little weird. You know those QR Codes – these things you can scan with your smartphone and get more information or be taken to a website?
Evidently there’s a company now that will put one on your tombstone or headstone so people can get more information about you after you’re gone. Here’s the story:
Technology on a tombstone? The Allen Monument Company in Crawfordsville, Indiana, is one company making changes. The company is now adding QR codes to tombstones.
QR Code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) first designed for the automotive industry. You can see a typical QR Code to the right. You probably have seen similar QR Codes on all sorts of products and advertisements. To use a QR Code, use a smartphone (typically an Apple iPhone or an Android phone) with appropriate software installed to take a close-up picture of the QR Code. The software reads the QR Code and then opens a web browser that displays the web page address that is embedded within the dots of the QR Code.
In effect, the QR Code becomes a “pointer” that points to a place where you may find more information. The process of displaying that information is automated with little human interaction required, other than snapping the picture. QR Codes are now popular on everything from Coca-Cola advertisements to tombstones.
The QR Code system has become popular due to its fast readability and large storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be made up of four standardized kinds (“modes”) of data (numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, Kanji), or through supported extensions, virtually any kind of data.
Randy Allen, owner of the Allen Monument Company, says that a QR code “makes the memorial almost like a form of social media. Other people can text messages to the family. They can also share other stories that they’d like to share as well. It’s all up to the family.”
Allen said the tiny QR code can connect you to an entire memorial site about a loved one, including photos, biography, and other information. He said it’s as simple as scanning it with your smart phone.
Adding a QR Code to a tombstone requires a one-time fee that’s included in the cost of the headstone. It can range from $99 to $400. A web page is also required although the page can exist on any web server. You can make changes to the web site whenever you’d like.
Are tombstone QR Codes becoming popular? “We’re selling probably a few a day,” said Randy Allen.