Virtual Reality Funerals Give the Living a Little Taste of Death
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2018-03-26 09:13:52

Beijing’s biggest funeral parlor held an open day last Thursday that featured a virtual reality simulation of death, reported The Beijing News — though it left some wondering why you would want to experience death prematurely.

Visitors could don VR glasses and earphones to experience having a seizure at work, a failed paramedic rescue, and entrance into the afterlife. Funeral parlor employee Dong Ziyi told The Beijing News that the immersive experience “enables people to better cherish the beauty of life.”

In addition to the death experience, visitors can use VR to explore funeral services with a five-minute session that goes through corpse delivery and storage, mortuary preparations, the memorial service, and cremation — a tour that would take an hour in real life.

Yet the concept was hair-raising to many readers of the Beijing News article. “I think walking around the funeral parlor alone late at night would give you a more vivid sense of death,” one user on microblog platform Weibo commented under the post.

“Terrifying,” another user wrote. “Criminals should experience this so they can understand the value of life.”

Though established 60 years ago, Babaoshan Funeral Parlor is no stranger to new technology. The facility already uses unique QR codes to prevent misidentification of corpses. And last year, it launched a 3-D printing studio to assist with repairing the faces of those disfigured in death for open-casket funerals. The staff also developed a robot called Kino that helps disinfect every surface.

Editor: Qian Jinghua.

(Header image: A man wears a VR headset to experience the journey from life to death at Babaoshan Funeral Home in Beijing, March 22, 2018. Yang Haodong/VCG)