For many Chinese people, the less time they can spend in a funeral home, the better.
Since these places are often associated with bad luck (不吉利 or bu jili in mandarin), one Hong Kong company is using virtual reality to help families choose a funeral home without having to step foot in one. It’s one of many innovative new uses for the budding technology, which is rapidly being adopted by China, where the market is expected to grow to $8.5 billion in four years.
“The design is to lessen the burden of the family as they are already need to face the sadness of the loss,” says Alex Hong, CEO of Sunshine Interactive. It took the company about a month and less than HK$100,000 ($13,000) to develop the app, which can be used on VR headsets like Google Cardboard.
One of the company’s partners is Wing Fook, a Hong Kong agency that helps people find funeral homes. In November, Sunshine took 360-degree imagery of five locations, and six families have used the technology to pick a funeral home, says Hong.
Here’s a look at what the experience of shopping for a funeral home using VR is like: