Mobile phone in one hand and a bunch of flowers in other. Many mourners across the world have been caught trying to catch a Pokemon at funerals.
Maybe you have not surfaced into the real world for a while? If you have, you will have seen many young people (though not always so young) staring at their mobile phone while walking the streets. They are searching the real world for virtual monsters.
Yes, really! It is called Pokemon Go.
The game was released in July. Millions of people are walking around trying to catch and train these virtual monsters using Augmented Reality.
Augmented Reality is the combining of digital information with the user's environment in real time. Augmented reality uses a real world environment and puts new information on top of it. Using GPS, you wander the world catching virtual monsters like Pikachu and Jigglypuff. You then train them to fight each other.
Hunting Pokemon At Funerals
These virtual monsters have turned up everywhere. Churches, funeral homes, and crematoriums have become Pokéstops and Gyms. ( I am not going to explain, look it up.) Amazingly, people have been seen and snapped themselves playing Pokemon Go at a funeral. Check out this great blog by Jason Feifer - Pokemon At Funerals - to see plenty of evidence of this being true.
Walking around looking at your phone and not the way you are going is just asking for trouble. The Pokemon Go injuries are piling up around the world. Sadly, this week, a driver playing Pokemon Go behind the wheel has hit and killed a woman in Japan.
It is an exciting, intelligent digital technology. You would think that somebody will use that in the funeral industry or end of life planning marketplace soon.
Well, they have.
Catching The Memories of Those We Have Lost
The lasting legacy of Pokemon Go could be this breakthrough technology will be used to "catch" pre-recorded videos from loved ones in cemeteries and unique locations. A tombstone company in Katori, Chiba, Japan is taking Augmented Reality beyond the grave.
Yoshiyuki Katori, president of Ryoshin Sekizai in Katori, Chiba, said the firm’s new app, named “Spot message,” realises his longtime dream of preserving memories of the deceased for the living.
As a common thread in many such inventions or creations of products like this, Katori's family were devastated by the loss of his uncle in an accident. He goes on to say, "I would often visit his grave, consulting with him in my mind whenever I had issues concerning my business. I wondered how comforting it would be if he could talk to me at his grave, with messages like ‘How are you doing?’ Alternatively, ‘Hang in there.’ ”
The common personal need for healing and overcoming loss caused Katori to develop the breakthrough idea of using Augmented Reality. He uses it to locate video messages from those who have died either at their resting place or other locations that were unique or significant to them. The web-based app is for people who want to leave videos and photos for their families and friends after they die.
Creative Use Of Augmented Reality In Overcoming Loss
Think about it! A husband could leave a message at the spot where he proposed. A favourite restaurant, beauty spot could be the place to "catch" time and time again that message from someone no longer here. The entrance to the local football club could see the loved one saying, "they will lose again!" To "see them" and "hear them" could be an excellent source of comfort to those hurting from the loss.
Wonderful or Weird?
What do you think? Is this an innovative use of technology or a bit "creepy?" What would you think if you could do someone and "see" the person you loved chatting to you? Alternatively, if you wandered those places where your loved one used to walk and suddenly you find hidden messages from them. How would you feel?
The application of digital technology in the funeral industry is just going to get faster and more diverse. Being aware of these trends for Funeral Directors and those in the care of people at the end of their lives is what Death Goes Digital is about communicating. I help you take that next practical step to implement these changes into your business or practice to help those dealing with loss. If you would be interesting in having me speak at your event on these subjects, check out my SPEAKER PAGE for more details.