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Graveside Virtual Reality

22 November 2017

An entrepreneur is using virtual reality to help Chinese families honor their deceased loved ones.

Crowded cities and sprawling urban centers are increasingly finding it challenging to find room to bury their dead. Cemeteries are filling up, and the scarcity of space often means families must choose cremation or burial at sea. But in Hong Kong especially, the choices are limiting.Tseung Kwan O Chinese cemetery. Photo: SKOchelungTseung Kwan O Chinese cemetery. Photo: SKOchelung

Although 90 percent of the deceased are reportedly cremated, there is still little room for the urns to be stored in public columbariums and the fees can be upwards of $100,000 to do so. Tradition calls for the dead to be buried in their hometowns, so they can look over their descendants. Proximity to loved ones is important to so families can easily visit and pay their respects.

That respect for parents and older people, called Filial piety, is of great importance in the Confucian tradition.

Anthony Yau’s firm,, offers users the ability to create virtual headstones anywhere in an augmented reality landscape of Hong Kong, including such unlikely places as a downtown park. Families can “visit” the VR cemetery at any time, even if the cremated remains have been spread at sea or in the mountains, or if the family was forced to use a cemetery many miles away.

Yau aims to launch the website in the first quarter of 2018 and has already attracted 300 users.

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