Just when mourners thought they had said goodbye to 87-year-old Marina Smith forever, shocked funeral attendees got more than they thought when the sad day came around July 29.
Smith, who died in June thanks to new artificial intelligence-driven “holographic” video technology, made a surprise virtual appearance at a funeral in Nottingham, England, The Telegraph reported.
An AI tool called StoryFile, by her son Dr. Stephen Smith’s company, enables funeral attendees to have real conversations with Smith and ask questions they’ll get answers to.
Beloved mothers and grandmothers lived their lives helping others and even starting their own nonprofit.
Before her death, Smith recorded hours of footage of her talking about her life, and her mourners were unaware of much of the information shared.
Her son’s technology used 20 cameras to film her answering questions, and his tools were able to create a digital clone of Smith.
The technology created the illusion of a real-time conversation with the late Holocaust educator, much to the surprise of those who came to pay their respects.
Smith’s son launched StoryFile in 2017, initially to share great stories from Holocaust survivors.
It has now expanded to that, sharing stories of historical figures and, of course, interactive videos at funerals.
StoryFile launched in the UK earlier this week, and the service has been available to US customers since early 2021.
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Before starting the process, a topic must be chosen, which will be discussed during the interactive “holographic” video experience.
These usually range from relationships and past experiences, to childhood and other unknown facts about the person.
The person must then answer an average of 250 questions for up to two minutes, which will then be made into a lifelike virtual experience in the form of a video.
Unsurprisingly, the hologram “shocked” mourners, according to Smith’s son. What’s more, those questions were answered with “new detail and honesty.”
“Mum answered questions from grieving relatives after watching her cremation,” he told the media.
“People feel emboldened when they record their data. Mourners may get a freer, truer version of their lost loved one.”
Both Smith and her husband have a reputation for helping others. In 1978, the couple bought an abandoned building, which they turned into a Christian conference center and later a sanctuary for those who needed it.
By 1995, the pair had converted the building into a National Holocaust Center. The building remains the only museum in the UK dedicated to Holocaust education.
Her efforts were recognised by the Queen, who added Smith to her New Year’s Honours list for 2005.
There, Smith was knighted as an MBE for Holocaust remembrance and educational services.