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Mortal(IT)y

Virtual Reality will be used as an archival tool to capture meaningful moments and thereby, the legacy of our loved ones.

Photo of Jamie Whittaker
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Virtual Reality (VR) could be used for the purpose of passing down stories, traditions and wisdom to future generations. By using various technologies to capture a snapshot (or multiple snapshots) of a person or place, we can allow users to explore the past and embrace the future. This process can heighten our appreciation for impermanence and lead to a more death-conscious and grief-skilled society that will enable us to provide a better end-of-life experience.

Mortal(IT)y is a project that integrates our current and developing efforts in:

  • VR
  • Photogrammetric Capturing
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • voice, social, and story archiving
  • open source models
  • end-of-life care practices
  • death literacy and grief skills

VR will allow us to interact with an archived version of a person in meaningful environments (family home, vacation spots, etc.). The 3D environment and physical scans will be captured using a Photogrammetric Capturing process. Voice, social and story archiving will capture the essence of participants and their experiences. Eventually our goal will be to combine the physical scan, voice, social and story archive with AI technology to create a virtual version of a loved one.  

The archival process encourages self-discovery, awareness of impermanence, and the deepening of relationships through a desire to stay connected to family, friends and future generations. After a loved one's death, the ability to interact with their archived legacy provides the gifts of reliving memorable moments, receiving wisdom and life lessons, and being supported through grief.

Overall this will create a better end-of-life experience through enhanced:

  • means for bearing witness
  • ethical wills (passing down wisdom and life lessons)
  • opportunities for multi-generational legacies
  • ideas for ceremony
  • evolving stories of ancestral lineage
  • integration of death awareness throughout life


The goal is to research the possibilities of using an open source model to enable the world to archive individuals, environments, stories and events using various cutting edge technologies for use before, during, and after death care. It could impact those living, dying, and grieving to achieve better relationships with ourselves, our loved ones, our earth, our future generations, and our ancestors.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Imagine future generations, not only hearing the story of a transformative event in your life, but virtually interacting with your legacy in the VR environment. This is not an attempt to achieve virtual immortality, rather it is an opportunity to embrace (and be enriched by) our actual mortality.

Tell us about your work experience:

Matt Wright, Chief Experience Officer and Founder of Mammoth VR http://www.mammothvr.com/
Janine Violini and Jamie Whittaker, Founders of Crows in a Row http://www.crowsinarow.com/#intro

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Photo of Joanna Spoth

Jamie - what a great post! I'm so curious to see how the role of technology plays out throughout the rest of this challenge. We'd love to see this idea submitted in our Ideas phase: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/end-of-life/ideas
Posting there will provide you feedback and others who are excited to collaborate with you!