What is it?
This was the reddot design project my friends and I were working on back in my first master program in China, 2010. This design concept aims at providing a solution for our digital legacy after we, who spent a ton of time in digital world, passed away. In this project we focused on creating an interface where saving people's digital stories and giving them a reasonable ending.
There is no doubt that we are living in a digital age. As the development of technology and design, everything around us is rapidly digitalized. Data is being created every day without us even noticing it. In 60 second, Google receives over 4,000,000 search queries, YouTube users upload 71 hours of new videos, Facebook users share, 2,460,000 pieces of content, Twitter users share 277,000 tweet.
This population of individuals who experience dying, death, mourning, grieving, and even mortality itself as a hybrid between the physical and the digital has grown in such number that it has become the focus of academic discussion. While not exclusively a religious matter—since it is as much a social, political, economic, philosophical, and psychological issue, among others—the intersections of mortality and digital existence caught our attention as members of the steering committee of the Death, Dying, and Beyond program unit of the American Academy of Religion (AAR).
What's the end of this data when we're facing the end of our lives? How to create a new product to give it an meaningful end?
Funeral culture has always been an irreplaceable part of human beings' civilization. In some particular history periods, the development of funeral culture had hugely and comprehensively affected other realms, such as art, craftwork, technology and architecture.
After Industrial Revolution, people are intentionally keeping funeral culture in the background... maybe because we don't need it as the productivity catalyzer. How to modernize our funeral culture? Before asking this question, there is another question really matters: Do we need to modernize it? Let's just leave these questions here, we will cut back on this later... (I will get this question being answered in the next project REMEMORY, which is my thesis project in ITP.)
"Tombs were the sites at which prayers for the dead would be performed and thus they functioned as points of contact between the living and the dead." ( Death, Memory & Material Culture, 2001, Elizabeth Hallam & Jenny Hochey) If tomb and grave is a great media to making contact between the living and the dead, how digital technology can improve this interface for a better communication? The communication could happen here would be "tell the dead what is up" and knowing the dead better. Clearly, online activities could be a resource to get to know a people better( many people are more talkable, open, even more aggressive online).
Three key words cover and guide our design, which are "digital home", "digitalized communication", and "extensive understanding". We want to create a digital home which provides a digitalized communication center for people who are visiting and gives visitors a better understanding about this deceased person.
Drafts and Exploded-View
As a digital tomb, most important thing we should figure out is how to keep it operating, what is the resources? In respect of the usage would happen in outdoor environment, and luckily, in most cases, graveyard is in outdoor space where has plenty of sunshine, in addition, in terms of the green design thinking, solar energy becomes the prime choice. Another feature of our design is the "cross shape bluetooth key", which will allow users unlock the family mode to access more personal and private content and manage the accessibility about the content inside.
Family Mode & Friend Mode
Family mode, just as its name implies, is designed for the concern of privacy. Family members or entitled person could access to the family mode and manage the content. For regular user, they could visit content saved and published in E-Tomb and could leave message, send pictures even videos to memorize deceased.