Digital Urns: The Latest Innovation From The Guys Who Brought You The Virtual Cemetery
We know that there are at least 23 things families can do with their loved one’s ashes, including spreading them, sending them to the moon, or turning them into a vinyl record, tattoo, or fireworks. But for traditionalists, keeping the ashes of a deceased family member in an appropriate urn or container in their home is the preferred choice.
Innovation from inconvenience
Unfortunately, this option presented a problem for Italians Jacopo Vitali and Gianluca Tomasi when their cousin passed away. With their cousin’s ashes ensconced in the home of his parents, Vitali and Tomasi were faced with a difficult question: “When we want to visit our cousin, where will we go?” They were concerned that paying homage to their cousin in person would disturb his parents.
So young Vitali and Tomasi did what any enterprising millennial would do: they created an app for that. Dubbing their new endeavor “RipCemetery,” the pair created a virtual social network where anyone can create a profile for their deceased loved one (including pets) that can be visited from any smartphone, anytime. Launched in 2014 with the help of crowdfunding through Indiegogo (they raised $580 of their $23,000 “stretch” goal), the app has been downloaded more than 5000 times in the Google Play store.
The success of RipCemetery led the duo to create their most recent product called iRip, a “digital cinerary urn” that does double duty as a vessel for cremains and a portal through which the keepers of the urn can view tributes to the deceased. To get started, families simply add the ashes to iRip’s internal airtight container, insert and power up the tablet, then pair the tablet with the RipCemetery app. The tablet’s display can be customized with various backdrops, including photos or videos. When someone sends a virtual flower, heart, or gift, or posts a message on the profile of the deceased, iRip sends a “sound signal” to alert the family.
A discordant desire
Vitali and Tomasi explain the need for iRip on their website in this way:
“I want to think that you’re still with us, talk to you, let you be a part of our daily lives. To keep the ashes in an urn of various shapes and sizes, or materials that offer the image of death, is discordant with the desire to consider that you’re still here, and only iRip gives me the possibility of always seeing you, with your best smile, adorned by a modern, cheerful, and colourful design.
While some of the language may be lost in translation (as is the American slang meaning for the words “I rip”), the Italian creators’ sentiments are clear. With the number of cremations outweighing burials, they want everyone to have the opportunity to let the designated urn-keepers know homage is being paid to their deceased family member or friend. It’s a nice thought, but the iRip website doesn’t mention what will happen when the tablet technology becomes outdated or the app ceases to exist.
Nevertheless, the iRip could be an interesting conversation piece, and may be especially popular with age groups who grew up expressing any and all emotions virtually and at their convenience rather than in person.
The iRip is available for purchase individually or in bulk for resale, and comes in a variety of colors, including a shiny gold model and a wood-grain texture. Prices start at €950, or about $1077 for a basic white or pink iRip with a complimentary one-year warranty.