Feb 17, 2022
Funeral directors often get a bad rap when it comes to adopting new technology.
We’ve lost count of how many times we’ve heard that morticians are slow to adapt and how the funeral business has hardly changed in the past 50 years. While it may be true that some funeral directors prefer to do things the way they have always been done, there is a growing group of deathcare professionals who are eager to implement new technology processes into their business.
At every funeral home convention ASD attends, we chat with funeral directors from all corners of the country who are excited about our ASD Mobile app and want to tell us about the other technologies they use for their business. There is a shared passion amongst all of them that is born only when a new solution has had a significant impact. In recent years, funeral professionals who have adopted smart tech products have shared with us how these options have opened the door to so many new possibilities.
We spent some time researching the most popular devices on the market to determine which items would most enrich the lives of funeral directors. Whether you are looking to save time, stay organized, improve operations or take better care of yourself, these tools can help you achieve your goals. Let’s be real: new technology is not for everyone. There is absolutely nothing wrong with sticking to whatever works best for you – to each their own we say! However, if you’re using a flip-style phone or still don’t understand what exactly Bluetooth is, chances are this list is probably not for you.
Here are our picks for the 8 best gadgets for tech-savvy funeral directors
1. Smart Home System
There are a myriad of different reasons to invest in a home automation system, whether you reside in your funeral home building or not. To be clear, a smart home system is not a single gadget, but an entire family of gadgets that communicate with a central hub and allow you to build a fully connected funeral home. From adjusting your lighting to monitoring the temperature of your chapel rooms to keeping your building secure, there are so many benefits this technology offers.
Establishing a smart home system is a considerable investment that requires you to replace old devices with smart technology enabled products. While it may seem too high-priced to some, over time a home automation system will pay for itself by reducing energy costs and waste. You can also build your smart home system gradually by starting with the appliances you already need to upgrade rather than buying all of the devices at once.
The three major smart home systems currently available are the Apple Home Kit, Google Nest (also called Google Home) and Amazon Alexa. For funeral homes, we recommend Apple Home Kit as it the most secure and privacy-conscious option available. However, one limitation is that it requires you to use only iOS devices. If you have already invested in other smart home gadgets that are not compatible with Apple, we recommend exploring one of the other options.
Smart Home Gadgets
As a funeral home answering service, we knowthat funeral homes often receive visitors at their door at unexpected times. Very often, we are the ones handling these calls. Rather than having to drive back to the funeral home to let someone into the building or to communicate with a delivery driver, a video doorbell allows you to see and speak with those who approach your front door. You can set up motion sensors and record videos of the outside of your building. This is a great device for enhancing both security and communication while providing added convenience.
Unlock your doors without keys by entering a secure code, using your phone or scanning your fingerprint. Smart Locks will typically work on any door with a dead bolt and can be installed in a few minutes. In addition to the convenience and security of not having to deal with keys, you can also create unique shareable entry codes. No more florists calling you in the middle of church on Sunday morning to be let into the building with a delivery!
One of the most powerful devices for every home and business owner, a Smart Thermostat enables you to automate your heating schedule and minimize energy costs. This automation can stop your heater from running while the building is empty, but still keep it at the optimal temperature when the building is occupied. Having the ability to control your thermostat remotely and receive alerts when the building is too hot or cold is an absolute gamechanger.
Security Cameras and Sensors
It’s not paranoid to want peace of mind when you are away from your business. We’ve all heard the stories. Even with good insurance, it can be hard not to have some anxiety about potential hazards and vulnerabilities. For those looking for smart tech security options, you can find a multitude of different cameras that allow you to keep an eye on your business from anywhere. In addition to smart cameras, motion, contact and flood censors can also provide additional reassurance and protection.
Smart LED Lightbulbs
Control and customize your funeral home’s lighting from anywhere with smart-tech enabled LED Lightbulbs. You can enable voice commands, set schedules and even control the lightbulb colors. Beyond saving on energy costs, there are a lot of other creative ways this technology can be used by funeral homes. For instance, you could set all of the lights in the chapel to the deceased person’s favorite color during their memorial visitation.
The funeral profession is one of the few trades that must adopt an on-call routine and remain available 24/7. For many funeral directors, being “off duty” is rare and multi-tasking is more than a necessity—it is a way of life. This is why having a smartwatch is a such an amazing life hack for morticians.
Like a tiny computer on your wrist, the device is ideal for those who need to review and respond to messages discreetly. It is difficult to take out a cell phone without the motion being obvious to everyone nearby. However, a quick glance at a Smart Watch will keep you informed of new activity without ever appearing preoccupied. You can quickly review and reply to text messages from your team or push notifications from the ASD Mobile without ever appearing distracted. Smartwatches also offers multiple safety benefits to those who receive calls while in transit.
Beyond their communication benefits, smartwatches provide an in-depth monitoring of your health. Funeral directors come face to face with mortality every day and are often reminded how unhealthy habits can lead to a premature death. From stress levels to calories burned to sleep patterns, smartwatches and apps have actually saved multiple lives. Some of the newer models can even measure blood oxygen via a complex wrist-based sensor, alerting you to potential issues such as respiratory conditions that require medical attention. In addition to monitoring health, smartwatches also help to motivate and remind users to stay active.
3. Bluetooth Trackers
Spend less time trying to find misplaced items with a Bluetooth tracker. These handy gadgets allow you to monitor the location of any item they are attached to using a smart phone, tablet or computer. You can stick them on your keys, wallet, remote control, suitcase or any other valuable you want to be able to easily locate. For Apple users, the most powerful Bluetooth tracker available are AirTags which will function even when out of range by working in unison with other Apple devices. This means that when something is misplaced, a vast network of iPhone users will help to locate the missing item. For Android users, the Tile tracker offers the second-largest crowd-finding network.
(Note: Due to the powerful scope and precision of AirTags, Apple software will alert users if a tag that is not registered to them is traveling with them. This is important to be aware of if you have AirTags on funeral home equipment or any items others may be transporting as the person moving them will receive a somewhat unsettling message telling them they are carrying a tracking device. This is simply a safety feature to ensure that AirTags are not used for nefarious purposes, but they could cause concern if a person is not aware they are transporting an item with an AirTag on it.)
4. Medical Grade Smart Air Purifier
These days, one of the most important concerns for all responsible business owners is doing everything possible to maintain a safe and germ-free environment for everyone who walks through the door. In addition to regularly disinfecting the funeral home, using a medical grade air filter can help remove viruses, bacteria and other harmful particles from the air. While most air filters can remove dust, mold and pollen, finding a medical-grade air purifying that includes a UV light combined with a HEPA filter will be your best option for capturing and killing airborne bacteria and viruses. There are a range of options available, but one thing that sets some apart from others is smart technology.
Air purifiers that use smart tech can connect to an app that allow you to take control of your funeral home’s air quality from anywhere. This technology allows you to remotely schedule air cleanings, select different cleaning modes, set timers and use voice control commands. You can also get reminders letting you know when you need to replace your filter or UV bulb. These combined benefits give you the power to manage your funeral home’s air quality in ways that were never possible before.
5. Robotic Vacuum
Did you ever notice how every single person who gets a robotic vacuum can’t say enough about how much they like the device? Honestly, what’s not to love? Turn this baby on at the end of the night after a funeral visitation and let it do all the work cleaning up dirt, dust and debris that might be left on the carpet and hard wood floor. Funeral home chapel rooms must be kept impeccable so why not invest in a little helper? Unless you’re trying to make an intern learn the value of hard work, what funeral director wouldn’t want to take vacuuming off of their to-do list?
For those of you wondering, “What happens during funerals? Will this little guy come into the chapel in the middle of a visitation and start vacuuming around the casket bier? Will I have to find it every time I need to turn it off?” Amazingly, no. With built-in smart technology, you can use an app or voice assistant to program a schedule, set up no-go zones, clean a specific area or turn off the device. These smart little suckers will even automatically dock and recharge themselves when they need a boost. For a little extra, you can even find ones with automatic dirt disposal.
6. Smart Notebooks, Writing Tablets and Smart Pens
For years, funeral directors relied upon handwritten notes. From writing down a message while speaking to ASD to taking notes on a legal pad during a funeral arrangement conference, using a pen and paper is just second nature for a lot of funeral professionals due to years of habit. Along comes Wi-Fi and mobile technology to tell everyone that it is time to switch to typing and tapping your thoughts instead of writing them down. Handwritten notes can’t be shared as easily and so they must be sacrificed to the new technology gods. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
For those of you who prefer using a pen and paper but often feel like you’re being left behind, a few new gadgets have come along that combine the best of both worlds. From tablets that mimic the look and feel of paper, to smart notebooks that digitally capture handwriting to pens that transcribe notes digitally while also recording audio, there are some really neat options on the market.
Royole RoWrite 2 Smart Writing Notebook– For those that prefer writing on real paper without an LCD screen, Royole’s Smart Notebook is an amazing gadget. You can convert your handwriting into digital text instantly and use the app to edit or search through your notes. The biggest downside appears to be a learning curve as the website warns the notebook can be complicated to utilize at first and recommends exploring its FAQ. Learn more.
reMarkable – The Paper Tablet– A digital device for writing and sketching, the Paper Tablet allows you to replace notebooks, print outs and documents. Like the Royole Smart Notebook, the Paper Tablet converts hand-written notes to typed text but uses an LCD display screen, so it is the costliest option. You can write notes just as you normally would but have access to helpful tools such as undo, erase, move and more. Learn more.
Livescribe Symphony Smartpen– Livescribe pens allow you to digitally capture everything you hear, write and draw on Livescribe paper. Like the other options on this list, you can convert your handwriting into text and use the accompanying app to search or edit. The main differentiator Livescribe pens offer is that you can simultaneously record audio while writing. The only drawback here is that you must purchase Livescribe non-reusable notebooks in order to utilize its Smartpen. Learn more.
7. Automatic Trashcan
We know what you’re thinking—“Do I really need technology in my trashcan?” and the answer, is YES! Why? Because anything that saves you extra time is worth the investment when you work in the funeral profession. Nobody likes touching a trash bin so funeral attendees will appreciate the built-in monitor sensors that automatically lift the lid. Beyond this, some models now have the ability to automatically seal the bag when it is full andchange the trash bag liner for you, allowing you to remove waste without wasting your time.
8. Instant Photo Printer
Have you ever needed to print out a photo in a pinch? Forget standing in line at the pharmacy’s 1-hour photo window because now you can print out quality photographs anywhere with an instant photo printer. This nifty little gadget is super portable and likely to come in handy much more often than you might expect. Imagine stepping in and being the hero to a family who has forgotten a favorite photograph for their loved one’s memory board. You could even set one up at a funeral service so that guests in attendance can print photos from their own phones of memories they shared with the departed.
A few other neat gadgets we think might be worth checking out:
- A smart speaker system for playing audio in your funeral chapel
- A drone to record the outside of your funeral home building from above (a great tool for marketing your business).
- A smart tire-pressure gauge sensor to ensure your funeral home vehicles won’t get a flat while on the road.
- A multi-device cell phone charging station for guests in your funeral home and your staff to use.
Which device on our list do you think is the best investment for a funeral home? Are there any great gadgets we may have missed? Please share in the comments below.
About The Author
Jess Farren (Fowler)
Jess Farren (Fowler) is a Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer who has been a part of the ASD team since 2003. Jess manages ASD’s company blog and has been published in several funeral trade magazines. She has written articles on a variety of subjects including communication, business planning, technology, marketing and funeral trends. You can contact Jess directly at Jess@myASD.com