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New tech tracks you to the tomb

By Mark Baard
March 15, 2010

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Talk about function creep.

A new product, the RosettaStone (, guarantees that RFID will follow you straight to your grave.

The RosettaStone is a palm-size stone tablet representing the deceased. It bears an RFID tag that communicates with mobile phones — directing users to an Internet memorial archive.

That archive might contain photos and recordings of the departed, or notes made by others “left below.’’

The RosettaStone uses the RFID technology, Near Field Communication, or NFC, which is likely to become standard issue on new mobile phones by 2012. (The RFID industry is promoting NFC as a handy way to make contactless payments and other transactions.)

Don’t own an NFC phone? You can always raise a departed one’s data, by punching the URL on the RosettaStone into your handset.

The device works as an heirloom or memento, which you can keep in a leather and felt pouch. (Imagine handing the stones out at a funeral.) You can also have the RosettaStone affixed, or inlaid, on a headstone, according to its manufacturer, Phoenix-based Objecs, LLC.

The RosettaStone is available as a piece of granite, or travertine — the latter looks like it came from a set of runes you would find in a Wiccan store in Salem. Prices start at a little more than $200, and include lifetime access to the online memorial database.

You can order your RosettaStone to be marked with several of Objecs’ own weird hieroglyphs. Say you are memorializing a professor. You might choose the symbol depicting a figure at a podium. There are also symbols for cops, crooks, bowlers, babies (I know, sad), guitar players, and many others.

Objecs says it will soon have a New England distributor for the RosettaStone, so it might not be long before RFID-tagged tombstones begin popping-up in Forest Hills Cemetery.


Tablet will make notebook obsolete

2010 is continuing to prove itself to be the year of the e-reader.

Samsung Electronics America Inc. recently unveiled its first for the US market. Called the Samsung Reader, the device is stuffed with useful features, which might make it the perfect replacement for that expensive, hipster-doofus, Moleskine notebook you’ve been carrying.

The Reader, which will be available this spring for about $300, has a slide-out navigation pad, and a stylus you can use to take and send notes, and highlight passages in the texts you are reading.

The Wi-Fi Reader has a 6-inch, 600 x 800 pixel, eight-gray scale, E Ink screen. It supports ePub, PDF, TXT, and the BMP and JPG picture formats.

Through a deal with Barnes and Noble, Samsung says you will be able to use the Reader to buy most bestsellers for about $10 a pop.

The Reader has 2GB of built-in memory. That’s enough for 1,500 books, according to Samsung.

The eReader also doubles as an MP3 player, and a text-to-speech device for the visually impaired.

You can listen to the audio from your eReader via its headphone jack, or wirelessly, via its Bluetooth connection.

The Reader also communicates directly with other Samsung e-readers, via something the company calls, EmoLink.