The traditions of burial and cremation after death are near universal practices that have come to be recognized as fundamentally human signs of respect for our dead. We have buried our dead for over 100,000 years and traditions of cremation stretch back 20,000 years; these are ancient signals of love, empathy, and belief in afterlife utterly unique to our species and culture. However, as we approach a global population of 7.6 billion and the amount of viable land for burial diminishes, we must turn to methods of burial that are both compassionate and environmentally-sound.
With a changing global consciousness that looks to preserve and respect our natural environment, innovative methods of burial and cremation are becoming increasingly sought-after. Over the past few years, methods such as green burials, human composting, and burial pods have all been suggested as solutions to the problems caused by traditional death rituals. However, one company has recently released its own design that could see a revolution in the way we treat human remains.
The team behind the Bios Urn, an entirely biodegradable urn that will grow a tree out of the cremated and buried remains of a loved one, has now created the Bios Incube, a minimalist and technologically advanced system that sustains life and keeps the remains close to home. Bios Urn is paving the way for death in the digital age. Featuring touch recognition, capacity for water to sustain the tree for three weeks, and a sensor to monitor the condition of the soil and the environment that communicates with your phone, the Bios Incube is designed to hold the Bios urn, sit within your home and grow a tree using those ashes.
Founding member of Bios Urn, Roger Moliné, states to Buzzworthy that the idea for the Bios Incube was born from a dissatisfaction with classic burial procedures that rely “on so many other products, processes and other logistics that increase the ecological footprint” and that the process of having “your tree growing in your house, right where you live, makes this process of life more like a meditation rather than a tour or a yearly visit to a cemetery”. Moliné also asserts that, despite the introduction of technology, the Bios Incube could represent a far more personal treatment of burial than a cemetery burial or traditional cremation, “from a user’s perspective, being able to check on the growth and see the tree sprouting with be really rewarding and provide a sense of closure.”
The Barcelona-based company has certainly already witnessed the vast popularity of its products in the past; released in 2005, the original Bios Urn provided the possibility of life after death and, with a low price bracket in an industry renowned for its financial demands, it was highly regarded by many as the new way to approach death. The concept of a biodegradable urn was an innovative concept to the market when the Moliné brothers released it and they have since witnessed the creation of many other companies to provide this highly in-demand product.
Speaking to Roger Moliné about the new Bios Incube, he states that the company did have some reservations about the introduction of technology to death and understood that it wasn’t an option for everyone. Bios Urn consequently decided to release two versions of the Bios Incube, one with a downgraded technological aspect and the other that was designed to be highly interactive. “Interestingly enough, we have found so far that most have opted voluntarily for the high-tech option”, says Moliné. At $450 for the standard model and $550 for the more digitally advanced option, the Bios Incube also represents an economically democratic option for families who may struggle with the burial cost in cemeteries.
I asked Moliné whether the environmental cost of cremation was a concern for Bios Urn, as the Incube requires remains to be cremated beforehand, however the founder notes that while cremation was once a polluting procedure, regulations have led to significantly less emissions than the industry once produced. Moliné also asserts that “the average burial is 200x more polluting in how it affects our environment”, which may be little surprise when cemeteries were once described by a former funeral director as “landfill for dead bodies”.
Perhaps most significantly of all, however, is the fact that the Bios Incube allows you to stay in close contact with your loved one, in an incubator that communicates with you (digitally-speaking) and brings life to your home after loss. Moliné and his brother believe that loss can be an important and transformative experience and the Incube can provide “solace in the joy of life”, as opposed to burying your loved miles away. In this particular case, it seems that the introduction of technology could make loss more intimate and meditative than we ever imagined before.