How Will New Technology Change the Way We Mourn? - 6 minutes read

New tech has the power to change our lives by making us more efficient, more productive, and happier. But how is evolving technology changing the funeral industry? And what new technologies are expected to change the way that we collectively mourn in the future?

The Promise of Technology in the Funeral Industry

When most people think about technological advancements, they think about them in the raw form. For example, they think about the coming technological singularity as AI advances to the point of overtaking human intelligence. They may also think of the medical industry where advanced imaging and robotics can impact the way we care for people.

Technology in the funeral industry has the potential for improving our lives in equal measure to the examples above. New tech gives us more options for funerals and mourning.

We’ll explore tech development in the funeral industry below.

3D Printing and Customization

According to In The Light Urns, one of the most important advancements in the funeral industry has been the rise of 3D printing. This allows for greater customization of cremation urns and other mementos and keepsakes.

In decades past, if you wanted a cremation urn, a piece of cremation jewelry, or some other memento or keepsake, you would have limited options available. In addition, you would only have a handful of providers to choose from.

These days, you can create almost any kind of urn, piece of jewelry, or memento you want either from a mold or from scratch. Customize your piece with engravings or by integrating existing physical objects into the design.

The process starts with a brainstorming session between the mourner/planner and an experienced 3D cremation urn designer. Once an idea starts to take form, it can be 3D modeled and previewed. After final adjustments are made, the finished urn can be fully 3D printed.

While there are limitations, it’s possible to 3D print urns in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. The power of customization makes these mementos and keepsakes more personal, while also giving consumers more autonomy and control. It opens the door to new paths of mourning and remembrance, enabling friends and family members to create a perfect, permanent artifact to celebrate their loved one’s life.

Video Broadcasts and Virtual Tours

Video broadcasts and virtual tours have also risen in popularity. Whether you’re touring a facility or a cemetery to see what’s available or virtually attending live services, you’ll have the option of feeling immersed in the experience without needing to leave your home.

This is one area where we expect profound developments in the near future, as VR headsets become less expensive, more impressive, and more commonplace. While not everyone is going to immediately adapt to the idea of throwing on a VR headset to attend a funeral, future generations may come to see it as normal.

Personalized Data, AI, and Recommendations

AI is advancing at impressive rates, greatly increasing our capacity to process and understand data. At the same time, software development companies and online brands are getting better at gathering and storing data on individuals.

The intersection of these two phenomena results in much more personalized recommendations, created by AI analytics. Instead of going into the decision-making process totally blind, consumers will be able to tap into a reservoir of personalized data to get recommendations based on their history, beliefs, budget, and other variables.

Obituary Writing

Many people find the responsibility of writing an obituary to be challenging. You want to cover the person’s greatest accomplishments and brightest personality traits, but the stress and emotional impact of mourning can make it hard to remember everything and produce your best work. People are turning to generative AI to assist with the obituary writing process, sometimes taking over the process entirely.

Today, it’s not especially hard to detect content written by AI. It tends to be highly repetitive, formulaic, and a bit stiff. But with some punch-ups from someone who truly knows the deceased, it can be much better.

In the future, AI writing may become indistinguishable from writing by the best human beings.

Management Systems

Many funeral homes and related businesses are integrating superior management systems, allowing them to gather more data from their consumers and streamline internal operations. This leads to smoother communications with clients, time savings in the form of automation, and in some cases, a greater range of capabilities.

Advanced management systems have also equipped smaller operations with the accessible resources they need to compete with bigger, more established businesses. It’s a relatively small investment that can instantly multiply your capabilities.

Online Options: Third Parties and Beyond

It’s easier than ever to start an online business, especially if you’re using advanced technology to empower that business. Accordingly, we’ve seen an explosion of new competitors in the death care and funeral industries. Instead of going directly to a funeral home for all your needs, you can do online research, browse products from dozens of providers, and utilize price transparency to make better decisions.

Competition is generally a good thing for consumers. It leads to a greater diversity of products and providers as well as lower prices. We can expect these trajectories to continue into the future, as the online presence of third-party offers increases.

Social Media and Interactions

Not everyone is thrilled about the current state of social media, but there’s no denying that it’s a powerful force. Already, this technology has offered new ways to engage with and mourn loved ones. You can turn a social media profile page into a memorial page and leave comments with your favorite memories.

In the future, this may evolve into a more advanced opportunity for engagement. Utilizing historical data from a person’s posts and other publicly available information, advanced AI could be able to replicate their writing style or even their personality traits. AI could successfully model what this person would have said in response to new events, or even model their entire personality in conversation. While some people will certainly find this off-putting, others will see it as a useful tool for processing grief and keeping a person’s memory alive.

Beyond Cremation

Cremation is popular because of its environmental friendliness, its inexpensiveness, and its relatively agnostic nature. In the future, we’ll likely see more funerary options, such as freezing or using the body to begin and support a thriving garden.

The Eternal Need for Empathy and Human Connection

Many of these technologies provide us with new options and offer services at heightened efficiency, but it’s important to recognize that there will always be a need for empathy and human connection in the funeral industry.

Mourners need genuine people to connect with, so businesses and organizations in the funeral industry won’t be able to rely entirely on automation and advanced tech to serve their consumers. The most successful death care and funeral businesses of the future will be the ones that can successfully combine the latest and greatest technologies with a thoughtful, genuine human touch.

Source: ReadWrite

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