QR codes turn headstones into digital memorial

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 21 2011 5:37 p.m. MDT

Code_IT QR barcode on a grave headstone

Mike Anderson, Deseret News

OREM — A Utah company is using bar codes to help families honor the memory of their loved ones.

With a headstone, there is only so much information that can be conveyed. There’s a name, a date, maybe an art-etching. With QR codes, however, people have access to videos, pictures and websites — anything the family wants to share about a deceased loved one.

Hudson Gunn, the owner of Code_IT Barcodes, heard about companies putting QR codes on headstones.

"There's lots of people, with lots of different stories that aren't being told at the cemetery,” he said.

He decided to make one for his grandmother, who had recently passed away and was buried at the Timpanogos Cemetery in Orem. When people scan the code on the small, metal plate, they're instantly linked to a website.

"Just standing there, you're no longer just reading the dates, you can actually listen to the person's voice, see their pictures, you can see what other people thought about that person, standing there," he explained.

It adds a whole new personal level to such a sacred and personal experience, he said.

That was two months ago. Since then Gunn said the idea has spread to customers like Aaron Sorensen.

"It's been an opportunity to bring people together and be able to remember those that have been a great influence in our lives," Sorensen said.

He wanted the QR code and website to help preserve the memory of his grandparents. Each of them has a story to tell, like Alva who served in World War II.

"There was a news article written about him, as was in the first wave on D-Day, coming on to Normandy, and my grandmother was one of the longest-surviving kidney transplant patients," he said.

Hudson is hopeful the idea will continue to spread, eventually bringing cemeteries alive with history. The technology is opening a new way for people to honor and remember the legacy of the people buried.

Those Legacy Markers, along with the website, cost about $50 apiece.

In the future, Hudson hopes to get the product more closely tied to genealogy resources and websites. He said he'd also love to see more of them on memorials for veterans.

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