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Wireless tombstones communicate from beyond the grave

Posted 24 February 2010 01:00 CET by Jared Newman

Tombstone engravings inevitably fade, but Arizona company Objecs says its virtual engravings last for several millennia.

Objecs’ RosettaStones are granite tablets that can be installed into tombstones, and can communicate with cell phones using radio-frequency identification. Each tablet contains up to six symbols, which communicate some basic information about the deceased, such as their home country, occupation and religion. When someone touches an RFID-enabled cellphone to the tablet, the phone instantly calls up an image of the deceased, along with a text description.

RFID, which uses one physical object to automatically call up information when placed near another object, won’t become common on U.S. cell phones until 2012. Phones without RFID can still call up the information through a Web site listed on the tablet.

Each granite tablet costs $225, and is expected to last at least 3,200 years in outdoor conditions. There’s also a tablet made of travertine, a 100,000 year-old stone, that costs $205, but it will only last for 100 years outdoors. The lifespan of both tablets is listed as “indefinite” in normal indoor conditions. As an alternative, it’s possible to purchase just a data tag, without the symbols, that can be stuck to an existing tombstone.

It’s a funky concept, for sure, but if you can get past the morbidity, it’s pretty cool. Imagine an elementary school field trip to a historic graveyard, where the students could instantly call up information about the people buried there. And it could be a nice way for mature adults to record a brief life story for their families that won’t be forgotten generations from now.

That said, I’m not ordering one anytime soon. Hopefully Objecs, or its technology, will still be around in another 50 years.

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