Earlier this year I had to attend a funeral. While it was obviously a sad event, it was also not unexpected and people were more interested in remembering the person’s life than mourning the death. The funeral took place at a funeral home I had never been to previously, Jones, Rich and Barnes in Portland, Maine.
Upon entering the room they call a chapel, I was immediately struck by the large projected image at the front of the room. The person we were there to remember was a veteran and the image was that of a waving American flag. It immediately reminded me of the person and how much serving their country had meant to them. I found it impressive, not because it was an overly creative display, but rather that it created an experience. In your typical funeral home, you have a heavy smell of flowers, no windows and a lot of sadness. Such an environment creates one experience, and this projection created another. The experience was one of celebration. We were celebrating the person who had passed and what that person truly loved, their country and their service.
The install consisted of an Epson projector mounted on the ceiling. Of course, I know this just from poking around and looking at the setup. A simple HDMI cable is run to a video source, which is out of sight. The screen was clearly a motorized screen that I guess to be about 8 feet wide. It is set up in the viewing area of the space, so it is at the focal point of the room. When turned on, it is neither overwhelming nor does it look out of place.
Unfortunately, I did not get to hear what the sound system was like, though a casual observation led me to believe it is a typical PA system. I imagine that people could pick out music and choose to have some playing over the system. I think that a quality audio system would only add to the amazing experience. As many of us know, people often forget about the audio, but it remains a critical aspect of the experience.
I did not have the opportunity to speak with anyone who worked at the company about the install or why they spent the money on it. I also don’t know how the funeral business works and whether or not there is such a thing as a premium options. We were clearly in what was the larger of the chapels, so it made sense that this install was in that room. I did see into another, smaller room and there was not a similar install. So, I was left to think on my own about why the company would spend this money. I think that it came down to what I mentioned earlier, about creating an experience. By offering clients the option of this screen they can provide them with the exact experience they want. I am a golf lover and can envision an image of the hole that I scored a hole in one on (yeah, right, never done that). If you had a camp with an amazing view that you just loved, you could put that image up. Perhaps tying that in with sounds of the area, birds singing, water lapping on the shore or a breeze in the trees.
I have never seen this type of technology used in other funeral homes. For integrators, this opportunity seems like a strong one that can provide lasting value. The installs are fairly straightforward, and therefore likely to be quick installs,= and reliable. It seems easy to demonstrate the value of the install to the company owners. Heck, even using the pictures included in this column show the value to potential clients. Even if the businesses don’t charge extra for this, it is a differentiator from other businesses. While a funeral is a sad event, running them is also a business. It is a business in which hundreds of people per week go through as visitors. These visitors not only will get to remember someone they cared about, in the way that person wanted, it will also serve as an added value that will be remembered when they have a need.