Crazy Ways Deathcare is Using AI

Funeral Industry News Products & Services March 29, 2023

Crazy Ways Deathcare is Using AI

AI has become famous for automating high-volume or repetitive tasks. We appreciate the way this simplifies day-to-day administration duties, writing obituaries, virtual services/memorials, even the purchase of goods and services.  But the technology behind AI does more than generate text, or code, or even images. Here are three mad-scientist uses of AI in deathcare that can directly affect a funeral director’s job.

Virtual reality visits with the dead

Perhaps eventually falling into the category of “services offered,” how about a 360 degree digital environment for “in person” wake visits with the lost loved one via virtual reality headsets?

Augmented Eternity takes the digital memorial in real time to the next level, turning it into a kind of video game with the deceased as a “character” with whom survivors interact. How it works: an AI version of the dead is created in avatar form, based on the deceased’s own appearance and personality by using authentic data generated from their own actual social media accounts, texts, emails, video and photographs.

It isn’t intended as a hack to bypass real grieving, but aims to temporarily soften the relentless sense of loss, somewhat as photographs might. The experience can even present an opportunity to say goodbye; Hi Ja Wun, a grieving mother, felt she was able to achieve a level of closure she’d been denied with the sudden loss of her child with the help of this technology and a virtual reality headset.

A less startling alternative with the same sort of function is HereafterAI, a sort of electronic version of the deceased, without the avatar or immersive environment.

Virtual reality “in person” grief groups

Added to the list of the truly marvelous, the virtual reality support group you can attend in person in the form of a digital version of yourself can be a powerful emotional support tool toward which you can direct families, alongside the more traditional community-based sources of support.

The complications of grieving can throw monkey wrenches by the score into the daily lives of those who mourn. Client-focused professionals often direct families to various formats of support networks; this is another format. Online therapeutic alternatives have existed for years, but they lack a potent factor: the many layers of intimacy in-person contact can bring. A sense of human presence.  Body language which communicated sympathy, encouragement, affection, and understanding can be received and processed in ways that simple text on a screen cannot. 

VR grief groups eliminated that omission by providing it in “proxy;” As the tech evolves into ever-more sophisticated form, movements, appearances and expressions of interacting avatars grow increasingly more lifelike, lending emotional impact to the environment in a context where that emotional element is key. The experience fosters a sense of shared community understanding and a sense of relief, of being in the company of others who really comprehend each others’ struggles.

Immersive virtual autopsies

Perhaps the most impressive application includes virtual autopsies. It won’t be appropriate in all cases, but for some, it is possible to virtually examine a body through actual medical imagery and with the body itself also present in the room, interior examination being undertaken through virtual means.

New AI applications also advance in forensic analysis, mortuary education, facial reconstruction, and even the ability to experience death, sort of (“virtual death classes”).