A startup in Spain has come up with a new way to grow trees from the ashes of the deceased — and to stay "connected" with them at all times. That's the idea behind the Bios Incube, the latest creation from Barcelona-based startup Bios Urn. The product, which launched on Kickstarter this month and has already met its funding goal, is billed as "the world's first incubator for the afterlife," and is designed to be paired with the company's eponymous biodegradable urn.
The Bios Urn, released in 2013, allowed people to bury cremated remains along with a seed that, in theory, would grow into a tree. The Bios Incube replicates and controls that process within a portable container that automatically waters the plant. Sensors within the incubator monitor the soil's temperature, moisture, and electrical conductivity, and that information is then transmitted to a smartphone app. The app also alerts users whenever the incubator's water tank needs refilling, or if conditions become too hot or cold.
The aim, according to Bios Urn co-founder Roger Moliné, is to help people feel more connected with those who have passed away. "When you lose someone, there’s a period of time where that person hasn't passed away yet, because you still remember it and you don't forget right away," says Moliné, a product designer who founded Bios Urn with his brother Gerard. "So the fact that you can have a living thing growing from the remains of someone who passed away — it’s really beautiful or even poetic, in some way."
Moliné says the system was designed for those who may not have the yard space to plant an urn outside, or simply want a more portable way to honor their loved ones. He adds that the Bios Incube is almost entirely self-sustaining, requiring only periodic refills of its water tank, which lowers the risk of the tree dying — something that may be particularly devastating for those still in mourning. The seeds that ship with the kit will only grow as large as the pot allows, though they can be transplanted outside, as well.
Works with weed, too
Bios Incube is the latest in a series of recent tech products that aim to ease — or at least change — the grieving process. An app called Your Last Will lets people record video messages to be viewed after death, and some companies have developed tombstone QR codes that link to online memorial pages. Among those on the more extreme end is a company called Celestis, which offers to send a person's remains into space.
Remembering the dead with Bios Incube won't be cheap; the incubator, urn, and sensor will retail for around €550 when the system begins shipping in May. Customers will also be able to choose from a selection of five seed types — maple, gingko, ash, beech, or pine — though the system would work with any tree or plant, including cannabis.
"That’s something that a lot of people have asked us on Facebook and Twitter," Moliné says.