QR codes finally find a use in the Chinese tradition of worshipping ancestors

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Tech-savvy youngsters in China have brought a new digital perspective to a tradition of worshipping ancestors. They wave their smartphones over tombstones and using codes affixed to the monuments can access a virtual obituary where photos and video clips of the deceased can be found.

Chinese celebrate the Tomb-Sweeping Day April 4-6.

The quick response codes (QR codes) affixed to the monuments, when scanned with modern digital gadgets, allow people to access the virtual obituary, Xinhua reported.

Cemeteries in cities like Shanghai, Shenyang and Fujian have seen a growing number of QR code stickers on headstones.

Information provided by the codes, normally ranging from names and dates of birth and death, to life stories of the deceased, has made memorials more dynamic and interactive.

"With the text inscribed on the tombstone supplemented by live music and pictures, my memory of my grandmother can be refreshed," said a woman surnamed Wang. "That will extend her life."

She said that even strangers can learn of the life of other people with the help of the new technology.

In a country where people pay their respects to deceased family members by visiting and sweeping their tombs every spring, it has taken little time for the high-tech innovation to gain popularity.

The machine-readable barcode, invented in Japan in the early 1990s, is now widely used for product tracking, document management and marketing purposes.

While older generations of Chinese go to shrines and graves to remember dead relatives, modern urban Chinese are turning to virtual memorial halls.

They light virtual candles for their deceased family members and lay virtual wreaths online.

Chinese officials have also been advocating the virtual drive out of concern over dwindling burial space, as well as air pollution and fire risks stemming from the tradition of burning imitation paper money for the dead.

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