Among the ideas is a smart phone app that could immerse the user in the history of a cemetery and participate in an interactive presentation.

The work is being done in conjunction with the historic Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust in Bristol, Calling the Shots media, also in Bristol, and Heritage Sandbox, part of REACT, which is led by the University of the West of England and is one of four UK knowledge exchange hubs.

The pilot project is called The Future Cemetery and is one of six in the South West funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and commissioned to unlock histories. The total investment for all six projects is £300,000.

Dr John Troyer, Deputy Director of the Centre for Death & Society, is in charge of the cemeteries project.

He said: “The idea is that people will visit cemeteries and become more engaged.

“One of the possibilities is to create some kind of smart phone app that will allow the user to enhance their visit. It would be more than a guided tour, more interactive.”

Dr Troyer said he hopes that using technology in this way would help to break down the psychological barriers around death and dying.

He said: “It will be used to initiate discussions around future life planning such as what people want to happen to their bodies after death and organ donor issues.”

The other Heritage Sandbox projects to be commissioned are:

  • Reflecting the Past: augmented reality mirrors on board Bristol’s SS Great Britain;
  • Ghosts in the Garden: multi-sensory pleasure gardens in Bath;
  • City Strata: a mobile platform which enables users to explore different layers of Bristol’s heritage;
  • The Ivory Bangle: a pervasive media project to enhance the museum experience;
  • The Memory Theatre: a project to explore the relationship between archives and memories;

Jon Dovey, REACT director, said: “Over the next four years REACT will transform the way universities and companies work together to create wealth and value for the UK creative economy for years to come.

“The partnerships in these projects will become the heart of new networks of value creation. These projects take fascinating arts and humanities research and explore how to engage new audiences.”