Funerals are irreplaceable events, especially for bereaved family members and relatives. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented many people worldwide from attending their loved ones’ funerals. The authors had the opportunity to assist one family faced with this predicament by webcasting and recording funeral rites held near Tokyo in June, 2020. Using our original 360-degree Telepresence system and smartphones running Zoom, we enabled the deceased’s elder siblings to remotely attend the funeral and did our utmost to make them feel present in the funeral hall. Despite the webcasting via Zoom contributing more to their remote attendances than our system, we discovered thoughtful findings which could be useful for designing remote funeral attendances. From the findings, we also discuss how HCI designers can contribute to this highly sensitive issue, weaving together knowledge from various domains including techno-spiritual practices, thanato-sensitive designs; and other religious and cultural aspects related to death rituals.
Daisuke Uriu, Kenta Toshima, Minori Manabe, Takeru Yazaki, Takeshi Funatsu, Atsushi Izumihara, Zendai Kashino, Atsushi Hiyama, and Masahiko Inami. 2021. Generating the Presence of Remote Mourners: a Case Study of Funeral Webcasting in Japan. In CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’21), May 8–13, 2021, Yokohama, Japan. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 14 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3411764.3445617