Breton “Interactive Headstones” – Encoding Memories

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Knowing the life history of a deceased person with a simple scan of a smartphone. That’s the idea of Breton entrepreneur Ronan Paschal.

“The idea came to me in 2012, when my son asked me questions about his great-grandmother when he came across photos of her on my smartphone,” says Ronan Paschal. Let go from his job as director in high-volume sales distribution, the 46-year-old from Brest was, in fact, searching for a concept to develop after having obtained his Masters 2 in marketing.

“I thought to myself that there could be something to do between the memory of the deceased and smartphones. I looked into the subject and I came across the idea of QR Codes (Quick Response Codes).” Following up his research, he also came across a company called BookBeo based in the little town of Le Faou in Finistère which specialised in the development of mobile applications of this type. “They liked the idea of keeping the memory of the deceased alive on the Net and we became partners.”

With prices of around €250 for private individuals, the concept has already attracted about 50 families in France.

“You can see that cemeteries are visited less and less often, because of geographical distances of the family members of the deceased,” says Paschal. “But with that, you also see a flourishing of grave-site maintenance companies. People are attached to the memory of their lost loved-ones. Our concept allows it to live on in perpetuity, thanks to a mini-site that loved-ones can enhance and add to easily: messages, anecdotes, videos, photos, etc.”

But the entrepreneur brestois doesn’t want to stop there. Along with his sales developer Patrick Lassalle, he plans to take his idea to the next level by broadening the offer to include communities.

“We’ve just created an application that allows fun and interactive cyber-journeys based on the heritage of a community or town or on the names of famous people on street plaques.” Paschal is currently based in Grandville in Normandy, where he’s poised to launch this type of tourist circuit on the theme of the Normandy Invasion. “For communities, this sort of service is less expensive than a website. We only need another twenty or so communities on board before we’ll be able to launch the application,” says Paschal. Hi idea, he claims, has received the presidential imprimatur of François Hollande himself, so it’s surely only a matter of time before it catches on in Ireland.

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