VR / AR News: The Latest VR / AR Use Case: Reuniting Loved Ones with the Dead

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1000 648 David Hoppe

Technology is changing nearly every aspect of how we live and this now includes the way we grieve. Virtual reality and augmented reality can now give us the opportunity to see, hear, and interact with replicas of our loved ones who have passed away.

Interacting with Replica of Deceased

The emotional devastation caused by the loss of a child is something that no parent should have to face. Grieving parents long for another chance to see their child again, offer them a hug, tuck them in, or celebrate their birthday even just one more time.

In South Korea, one mother’s yearnings for these experiences were assuaged with virtual reality technology. An emotional finale to the TV show ‘I Met You’ aired in early February 2020, in which grieving mother Jang Ji-Sung was able to interact with a replica of her deceased child, 7-year-old Nayeon, who had died from a rare disease in 2020.

Equipped with haptic feedback gloves and an HTC Vive Pro VR headset, Jang Ji-Sung was able to see and hear a replica of her daughter in VR as they hugged, and as the replica of Nayeon asked her not to cry.

The mother had the opportunity to feel like she was interacting with her lost daughter in a variety of ways which included celebrating her birthday and watching her daughter blow out the candles on her cake. She then got to tuck the replica of her daughter into bed one more time and, when she laid her to rest, the replica of Naeyon transformed into a butterfly who flew all around her mother before Ji-Sung returned to the world outside VR.

Watch a clip of their reunion here.

Hearing and Seeing Messages at the Grave 

Augmented reality is also changing the way we face death. The new AR app Suma Tomb, from Japanese tombstone engraving company Rioshin Sekazai, allows visitors to view images and messages from deceased loved ones at their gravesides for approximately $4.50 per month, with the first year offered free to grieving families.

SoraNews24 translates a promotional graphic, which includes two deceased parents standing at a grave with a speech bubble over them that reads: “Take care of yourself. We’re always watching over you.”

Users can place the geo-locked AR location of their loved ones at their gravesite or anywhere in the world they choose. If the service is set up prior to death, individuals can store multiple messages and videos at virtual locations for loved ones to experience after they pass.

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David Hoppe

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