Memorial Site Project - Keyoku: Memories Are Everything.
QR Codes and the memorial industry
Quick response codes have hit the US by storm 18 years after their invention in Japan. Even before interning at daqri, who uses QR codes to anchor their augmented reality experiences, I had been intrigued about the use of QR codes on memorials and tombstones and wondered if they could be applied in creating memorial tours around cities and public spaces. Could people feel history resonate around them by way of mobile technology?
I felt that QR codes (as well as geotags) were a fine solution to this conundrum and prepared the following presentation pitch as an example of the kind of forward-thinking ideas that memorial companies could use in the age of point and click social media. I was inspired by videos I had seen about Japanese graveyards, and wondered if I could expand these concepts to entire cities or even countries. And I wasn’t the only one wondering about this.
This report was a presented to a digital marketing class in Spring 2011 at USC’s Center For the Digital Future in PowerPoint form.
Who We Are and What We Do: We are Keyoku.com, and we are a service-oriented company devoted to the re-invention of the memorial industry. We feel that we can best describe our service as a highly-customizable time capsule system wherein the beauty and poetry of life is captured and redistributed back into the everyday. Using our service means that you don’t solemnly close the door on somebody you care about when they pass. By choosing to work with Keyoku you allow memories and history to be delivered at will for generations and generations to come.
What We Aim to Achieve: It is our hope to utilize modern online, offline, and mobile technology to re-integrate the memories and accomplishments of your loved ones into the spaces that defined their lives. It is our belief that the so-called “death industry” is callous, off-putting, and divisive by design, which results in an uncomfortable and upsetting experience for the bereaved when they have to make lasting and costly decisions regarding the most beloved members of their family and their community.
But what if you could remember those that you care about in a manner that doesn’t make you feel like you’re rushing through to separate yourself from them? What we’re establishing is not a hidden, gray grassland filled with saddening and morose statues, scary crypts, and depressing atmospheres, but a bright, vibrant, lively, and real representation of the people we care about, in context and in place. Where it counted and where it will count.
Our Process: Clients can browse our website and look at a variety of standardized packages, ranging from a very affordable basic electronic memorial set all the way up to a fully customized remembrance suite that includes a painstakingly rendered video and a 3D augmented reality life tour. From there, a prospective client may contact us via phone, email, instant message or fax and we can begin a free consultation. Each one of our packages is customizable with options and modules that are easily implemented, and turnaround time can be as little as two weeks. Upon sign-up, an initial deposit covers design, delivery, and upkeep, and from there our team will begin building the Keyoku memorial in earnest before submitting the package to the customer for final reviews. We offer two review passes for each project, and account representatives will be available to address the concerns of clients during the entire build. The memorial will launch with full connectivity upon final payment, as noted on the customer’s final project approval form.
Keyoku in Action: We’ve made some big claims, and we fully intend to back them up by combining passionate design with innovative delivery and a compassionate demeanor. Our memorial packages leverage personalized embedded videos, dedicated sites, mobile applications, QR codes, three dimensional augmented reality models, sound, multimedia, sculptures, and digital images with one goal in mind: celebrating life. But where we shine is in the application of the technology.
Simple, small, and easily-managed quick response codes can be placed in almost any environment in a non-invasive, cost-effective manner. These codes, which are elegant, attractive, and endlessly malleable, can be used to trigger videos, slideshows, or even letters and personal password-protected messages written by your loved ones in a manner of seconds, and they can all be distributed to and affixed at the places that mattered to them. Geolocative tags, which are completely invisible to the naked eye, can be used in public or high-traffic areas to the same effect.
Example: A family decides to make a life tour for their great aunt. Working with our account representatives, they collect images, videos, letters, postcards, music, and art that weave a rich personal tapestry. Our team creates four dozen QR codes and geographical tags that trigger responses on a personalized mobile application that her friends can download immediately on several platforms. After final adjustments, the family goes on a life tour around the town their aunt called home, exploring the places that she made her own and that colored her life. They visit a nearby library she frequented when she was finishing her thesis on post-revolutionary French literature at the local university, the same library where she met her husband, whom they learn wasn’t exactly the best math student. They then explore the symphony hall where he proposed to her on the front steps in front of 300 tuxedo-clad fans of Vivaldi. Later the family goes by the hospital where her daughter was born, the school house where she served as a vice principal, and the sports arena where her son played football on the state championship-winning team. At the end of the day everyone retreats to a local eatery and sits in “her” booth, where her favorite meals are listed along with stories about her relationship with the older immigrant family who ran it. And finally, they celebrate with a nightcap at her favorite pub, which features a 3d augmented reality statue dedicated to her, complete with a quote by Moliere.
With Keyoku, memorials become accessible and prodigious. You won’t have to lobby for a heavy bronze plaque and you won’t have to countenance paying tens of thousands of dollars for a staid and morose piece of carved concrete in an upsetting graveyard. We allow you to celebrate what matters publicly; life, friends, community, and places.
Our Management, Our Model, and Our Team: Our team consists of a core group of experienced staff. We launched in May 2011 as an LLC, and we are a bootstrapped operation that began with $30,000 (US) in personal funds. We are currently “ramped” until the end of 2012, and most of our employees are half-time. Our projects are handled by a variety of creative professionals that we have on contract, and we offer a separate service contract with an affiliated agency that guarantees your memory package is maintained, cared for, and updated in a responsible fashion for generations to come. A lot of us come from a creative and art history background, and we maintain that the creative spirit informs our discipline and fuels our commitment to providing our clients with a truly memorable service. Our team of writers, designers, artists, programmers, and digital architects will work to understand and satisfy your personal needs. We want to make something that lasts, and we want to make something that is fitting for you and your loved ones.
Our Marketing: Our marketing plan is simple and clean. We will begin by placing notices about our existence in select trade publications, and from there we will court the mainstream press in earnest by employing the talents of a publicity specialist. Several Keyoku memorials have been established for members of our own families as a proof of concept; my own grandfather has a memorial tour in his hometown. We aim not to promote by hype or flash, but by showing the same kind of class that our clients deserve. Our validity as a service will avail itself through word and deed.
Who We Compete With and Why We’re Different: We have three major competitors at the moment: Service Corporation International’s Mem.com service, MuchLoved.com, and Bcelebrated.com. Keyoku, however, is not just a website; we’re dedicated to integrating memorials into a “life” space where anybody with the proper access tools can see them. We don’t relegate things out of sight, and we refuse to present ourselves via a poorly-designed website filled with banner ads or other inappropriate calls for attention. Our content team is world-class, which ensures that our clients will have wondrous and unique memorials both on and offline instead of perfunctory template-based web pages.
Conclusion: We would like to thank you for your time and we welcome your questions and comments. We are open to having discussions about investment, partnerships, or staffing, and we look forward to hearing from you. You may reach me at -Redacted- at your leisure.
"Eternal Space: a Debacle?" Final Embrace. 14 June 2009. Web. 07 May 2011. <http://finalembrace.com/2009/06/14/eternal-space-a-debacle/>.
"Homepage." Celebrate Your Life and Legacy - BCelebrated.com. Bcelebrated, 2009. Web. 07 May 2011. <http://www.bcelebrated.com/>.
"Homepage." Light a Pixel - The Online Memorial. Light a Pixel, 16 Oct. 2009. Web. 07 May 2011. <http://www.lightapixel.com/>.
"Homepage." Making Everlasting Memories, Worldwide Memorialization, Establish a Living Family History. Making Everlasting Memories, L.L.C., 1998. Web. 07 May 2011. <http://www.mem.com/>.
"Homepage." Online Memorial Websites - Free, Special Memorials. MuchLoved, 1998. Web. 07 May 2011. <http://www.muchloved.com/g_home.aspx>.