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Chinese graves use quick response codes to recall the dead

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Japan’s reputation as a global technology trend setter has received some rather unlikely validation: after graves in the country started sporting QR codes, the little squares of encoded data have now appeared in cemeteries in China. The codes are placed to provide links to information about the deceased.

In Japan, adding QR codes to headstones is apparently known as kuyou no mado or “memorial service window”.

The idea is that visitors to the gravestone can find out more on the person six feet under, thanks to photos, videos and other commemorative content uploaded by friends and family.

Now, media reports in China (via Sinocism) say that more than 10 people have applied for the service for their departed loved ones at the Shengjing cemetery in Shenyang, capital of north-east Liaoning province in China.

It’s certainly one of the more unusual uses for the near-ubiquitous codes, which were invented back in the mid-1990s in Japan but surged in popularity over the past few years with the growth in smartphone devices loaded with QR reader apps.

Although mainly used to peddle disappointing marketing content, a few notable exceptions have shown QR codes in a kinder light.

Also in China, for example, retailer Yihaodian is planning to launch a series of supermarkets nationwide which don’t actually contain any food, but merely pictures of items to order for home delivery by scanning their QR code.

In Turkey, meanwhile, Istanbul ad agency BÜRO incorporated the code into an innovative newspaper advert for its client – a tattoo parlour.

Candidates keen to work there were encouraged to ink in a blank QR code which, if completed accurately and scanned would take them to an online application form – whilst simultaneously providing the initial screening process. ®

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