Memorialising for the future

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To people on the outside looking in, the world of monuments and memorials may seem to have stayed the same for some time but the digital revolution is hitting the industry in a very tangible way. The Memento by ModUrn represents a new way for people and places to be memorialised and Bronze Plaques NZ is leading the change.

Envisioned by Melbourne entrepreneur Sonia Vachalec, the Memento is a battery-operated beacon whose Bluetooth signal is received by the ModUrn app. This lets the app user know they are within range of a life story that features all the audio-visual detail expected in the digital age.

In the original iteration, the beacon is encased within an ashes urn to allow the bereaved to access the deceased’s story on their device whenever they are close to the urn. This digital life story concept represents a paradigm shift for memorials. The subject can record messages for future generations before they pass away and are they can include contributions from family and friends. Because the life story is stored on the secure app platform, it can be accessed by invitation from anywhere in the world, but the urn and beacon locate the memory of the deceased in a particular place.

Arrow Bronze Ltd of Melbourne were the first memorialists to see the opportunity the Memento beacon created and in collaboration with ModUrn, they developed an outdoor version to be embedded in a bronze plaque. In a cemetery situation, the beacon signal is set so the app user accesses the life story as they approach the grave, a major proximity advantage over QR codes and much less visibly intrusive.

Inspired by this new way to memorialise people and pets, Bronze Plaques NZ envisaged an even broader scope for the Memento beacon. To go from telling the life story of a public figure in a public place to telling intersecting stories of multiple people at important historic locations seemed a logical step. The space limitations of a traditional sign are lifted. Concerns about a single version of events being ‘carved in stone’ are eliminated.

In the same way, a visitor to a gallery can use an audio device to explain the exhibits, anyone touring New Zealand can use their mobile device to access information about historical events and notable sites they encounter along the way. The Memento beacon signals the location and a rebranded version of the app presents the stories, complete with photos, video links and documents as appropriate. A bronze plaque serves to traditionally identify the location for those who choose not to engage with technology.

The next step will be to implement a pilot program that effectively demonstrates what this technology can deliver if consistently applied nationwide. If you are interested to learn more about this product, contact Brian Robson from Bronze Plaques NZ.

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