When tech meets tradition: Remembering the deceased in a green way

Updated 2017-03-31 10:01:04 China Daily

Editor's note: “Natural burial” is not new in China, but technology makes it easier by easing the contradiction between contemporary ecological requirements and traditional method of commemoration. Here we take a look at how technology is changing burial services in Beijing.

QR code opens door for commemoration

The first natural burial ceremony in the city was held on Saturday in Chaoyang district's Changqing Cemetery. Ashes of 31 deceased were interred in the lawn in a container, which will dissolve in about six months and become part of the soil.

Families who choose this way for burial can obtain a commemorative plaque engraved with the person's name and a QR code. And the service is free.

After scanning the code, one can view online the person's photos, videos, biography, family tree and leave condolences on the message board.

The cemetery can house ashes of 15,000 deceased which means each body only takes up one-square-meter space.

GPS to be used in cemetery

Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery plans to use GPS to help families easily find where the ashes are interred.

The park area of the cemetery consists of two parts. One, spread over 16,000 square meters, is designed as a home to ashes of 2,000 deceased. Ashes can be buried beneath trees, flower beds, grass, rocks, in water and cinerary urn that are biodegrade. Plans are under way to store ashes in some parts of the street lamps or other places on the square.

As there are no serial numbers on the tombstone and the places for ashes burial are loosely scattered in the park, GPS marked addresses are expected to be added to the tombstones. The accuracy of GPS is expected to be set within 3 meters.

Except ashes buried in the cinerary urn, graves for other ways of burial on average only take up 0.48-square–meter space, with a greening area of 3 square meters.

Robot to do sterilization job

Sterilization at the funeral home is an important job to ensure safety of the staff there and family or relatives of the diseased. Now a robot has taken up this work at Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery, saving labor and ensuring safe sterilization.

“Previously, one-time sterilization would take one hour with five staff members involved in the task. But we still weren't sure whether all viruses and bacteria had been killed, which was a threat to us and our family,” said Qu Jie, an employee working at the funeral home. “Now my family also feels safer.”

The one-meter-tall robot was co-launched by an institute working under the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the cemetery. The inventor said the efficiency of sterilization could be 98.14 percent, and frequency of sterilization can be extended to once a week.

3D printing to repair facial features

Facial repair is a way to respect the dignity of the deceased and provide consolation to families. Now, 3D printing can make this task better in a shorter time.

It usually takes three hours to print a mask based on the facial features captured through computation. The mask will be used for further repair, for instance, silica gel will be filled in if possible.

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