"The idea of the tree continuing life is important, but it’s also about the process of planting and caring as way of honouring someone you love, and this technology facilitates that.”
For a little while now, the Internet of Things applied to everyday products has revolutionised everything from checking energy readings to making toast but, as a Spanish start-up has now proved, it can also be used for a form of after-life care. The Barcelona based company has developed a biodegradable urn that can be filled with a loved one’s ashes after they have been cremated, using an innovative design that allows the remains to mix with the plant after it has germinated – when the ashes are lower in acids that could harm the roots.
The second generation of Bios urn, Incube has an in-built 20-day refillable irrigation system that can be topped up and has a sensor that monitors the ground conditions, updating users via text message of information such as levels of light exposure and electrical conductivity. The £350 app-powered device, which offers helpful pointers and advice for keeping the tree in the best condition possible, is being aimed at city dwellers with limited access to natural land as well as those seeking alternatives to cemeteries.
“For many people, this will be the first time they’re growing a tree,” said Roger Moliné, one of the two brothers who founded the company, in The Times. “The first few months are the most important and people won’t necessarily be confident about how to tend it — or they may have time constraints. The idea of the tree continuing life is important, but it’s also about the process of planting and caring as way of honouring someone you love, and this technology facilitates that.”
Though first announced to the world back in March using crowdfunding website Kickstarter with the aim to raise £46,763 ($60,000) to cover manufacturing costs and continue development of the sensor’s system, Bios's push for investment eventually yielded £57,418 ($73,671) that has brought the product to market.
Though thought to be the first to harness such technology for bio-friendly burials, alternatives to the biodegradable urn, dubbed iUrn, already exist, such as US company The Living Urn sells bamboo containers that seal off the ashes from the delicate sapling routes with an ash-neutralising agent that ensures germination takes place. Available in versions that are suitable for both human and pet remains, the £105 ($135) and £92 ($119) units are available with a choice of different tree seedlings.
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