High-Tech Headstones Let You Speak From Beyond the Grave

PHOTO High-tech headstones let you speak from beyond the grave.

After he dies, Christopher Hill plans to speak to his grandchildren, great grandchildren and even future generations from beyond the grave – not through a psychic medium or his last will and testament, but through a microchip.

"I think that when you walk by a gravestone and only see things like a few words, or a name and a date, it can be somewhat cold, impersonal, and almost incomplete," the 41-year-old from Northern Virginia told ABCNews.com. "This gravestone is supposed to tell the story of a person, and provide you that connection or emotional remembrance."

With new technology developed by a Phoenix, Ariz. company, he now thinks that could be a real possibility.


Launched by Objecs, LLC last month, Personal RosettaStones are iPod-sized stone tablets embedded with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags that can store up to 1,000 words and a picture. When they're near a mobile phone equipped with compatible technology, the information in the microchip is beamed right on to the cell phone screen. Objecs says the tags, which can be affixed to headstones, can last for up to 3,200 years.

Hill, a financial advisor and founder of a funeral resources Web site, was an early supporter of the product and among the first to buy one.

RosettaStone Could Give Future Generations More Insight Into Family History

With it, he said, future generations would be able to visit his burial site and see more than his name and dates etched in a stark, grey tablet. They'll be able to read about where he lived and what he loved to do and how he lived his life.

"I literally can speak to people forever, I can be seen forever," he said. "I can always have something my kids can see and touch."

As the funeral industry continues to become more technologically sophisticated, with funeral webcasts, memorial Web sites and tribute DVDs, he said the RosettaStone could appeal to families looking for a new way to remember loved ones.

Since news about the RosettaStones broke, Objecs says the company has been flooded with inquiries – too many, in fact, for the small company to keep up with.

"It's been overwhelming," said John Bottorff, the company's founder. But he acknowledged that given the very high-tech nature of the product, many of the inquiries have come from members of the tech community curious about how an advanced wireless communication standard is being applied.

Near Field Communication Tech Could Extend to Cash Machines, Billboards and More

The RosettaStones only communicate with phones equipped with near field communication (NFC) technology. The short-range communication technology allows information to pass wirelessly between two devices that are within inches of each other. The industry says that vending machines, cash machines, billboards and street signs could all become NFC-enabled.

Though it isn't prevalent in the U.S., Bottorff expects that it will migrate to the U.S. soon. At the moment, the standard has generated more interested in Europe and Japan, he said, adding that many of the RosettaStone inquiries have been from those parts of the world.

"We have a technology in place, right now," he said. "But it's sort of like building a road and there's not a shopping mall out there yet."

But he expects the shopping mall to come.

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