Epitaphs Extended Through Audio Recordings


    By Sophie Barth

    After a person passes away, the familiar sound of his or her voice is the first memory to fade.

    Some people preserve this memory through home videos or by keeping the deceased”s voice on the answering machine.

    LegacyLink, an upcoming product by Audio Archives Inc., is looking to preserve this memory in a form as tangible and lasting as the headstone itself.

    LegacyLink is a thin audio recording device that attaches to memorials such as headstones or mausoleum crypts. A person pre-planning his or her own funeral, or family members of the deceased, can create a 10-minute recording that will be attached to the memorial.

    The device is solar powered, weather resistant, and attaches to both old and new tombstones.

    “We were at a family reunion and someone was talking about a relative who had passed away,”said Derek Williams, founder and vice president of marketing for Audio Archives. “We thought, wouldn”t it be nice if that person”s stories could be recorded.”

    Projected to enter into the market by early 2007, LegacyLink was created not only for preservation, but also to comfort the grieving.

    “A lot of people have memorabilia, like photos or journals, but many people get used to the sound of a voice and its soothing effects,” said Ryan Coombs, president of Audio Archives. “But after someone passes away, people can hardly remember that voice.”

    A person can purchase a LegacyLink for his or her own headstone and leave a message for posterity and the public, or a family can purchase it for loved ones or ancestors whose stories should be told.

    The customer then records an extended epitaph, narrative or final advice. If at any time the customer would like to change the message, he or she is given a confidential three-digit code that will erase the current message and allow recording of a new one.

    LegacyLink devices are then attached to headstones, and anyone passing through the cemetery can listen to the message.

    “This is good because people would want to find clips of their ancestors” voices; it could help them feel closer to their ancestors,” said Jackie Bartell, a junior from Bakersfield, Calif., majoring in social work and minoring in family history. “It”s a really neat idea, because when people go to visit their ancestors” gravesites, they could hear stories about that person.”

    It”s designed to be audible to those standing next to the memorial, but it”s not loud enough to be disruptive to others in the cemetery, Coombs said.

    “Many of us will be walking through a cemetery to visit the gravesites of family or friends and notice the tombstone of someone who died very young, and we wonder why,” Coombs said. “What if this product can answer those unanswered questions about people”s lives?”

    Audio Archives Inc., based out of Layton, plans to release LegacyLink for $400 to $700 a unit.

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