FORT WAYNE – Imagine walking through a cemetery and being able to not only see dead people but hear them speak as well.
That day is here.
But it’s technology, not ghosts, at work.
Small computer chips affixed to tombstones will allow anyone to access information about the deceased, including photos, family history, even video and audio.
The information can be accessed with a smartphone or by typing in an access code and URL on a computer.
Is it spooky, or fascinating? That depends on whom you talk to.
Ron Stanley, owner of R&T Monuments in Kendallville, is excited about the technology. Stanley is an authorized dealer for the memory discs manufactured by Rosetta Stone, best known for its language products.
Stanley said he is the only vendor in Indiana at this time and was the fourth in the United States to jump onboard. He has already customized a medallion for his father’s tombstone.
Families who buy the granite discs are issued a password and access code and are allowed to update the information as often as they wish, Stanley said.
For instance, if they wanted to put a Christmas photo or a photo (of the deceased) in a Halloween costume, they just go to the computer and update the information, Stanley said.
OK, that may be a little spooky.
The granite discs are affordable, Stanley said. New headstones can include the medallions as part of the monument. For older tombstones, medallions can be bought and then affixed to the monuments.
Prices start about $100, and there is no annual renewal fee, Stanley said.
The medallions have been tested 30 meters underwater and survived tests of below-freezing and extreme-heat conditions, Stanley said. The adhesive used lasts as long as the monument, he added, and it would be almost impossible to dislodge the disc after it is mounted on the tombstone.
A wall-mounted unit that will hold information for up to six names is available for mausoleums, Stanley said.
Curt Witcher, manager of the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library, doesn’t think the technology is spooky at all. He thinks it’s brilliant.
In a very real way, cemeteries are neighborhoods of dead people, Witcher said. Imagine being able to walk through and access the secrets and the stories behind those neighborhoods.
These (medallions) would be a phenomenal help to those individuals who are doing site research for genealogy, Witcher said.
People want to put more information on tombstones, Witcher said, and this will enable them to do so.
Look at today’s monuments, he said. They have etchings, symbols, portraits and more.
Given the rapid pace of current technology, there is a possibility that the programs used in the medallions might become outdated, Witcher said.
I haven’t been able to get an answer on that, Witcher said, because right now, no one seems to know.