SOURCE: R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising

September 20, 2006 20:39 ET

Patented: The Video Enhanced Gravemarker

A Video Tombstone That Will Have Some Major Social Implications

SAN MATEO, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- September 20, 2006 -- Robert Barrows of San Mateo, California, recently received a utility patent on an invention called The Video Enhanced Gravemarker (U.S. Patent #7089495, Issue date: August 8, 2006).

The Video Enhanced Gravemarker is a video tombstone that will be able to deliver lengthy video content, with smooth transmission, in high quality, just like your home video equipment. It is a tombstone that features a hollowed out compartment that has been designed to accommodate a wide variety of complex electronic equipment. It will be superior to other video tombstones that can only deliver brief slide show content. People will be able to go into a graveyard, get a remote control device from the cemetery office (or pick up a remote control device from a locked box at the tombstone itself), and they will be able to use the remote control device to operate the video equipment just like in their living room. Audio content can be delivered through speakers attached to the tombstone or transmitted to wireless headsets. (The headsets could also be obtained or rented from the cemetery office.) There is also a back door on the tombstone so equipment can be easily inserted, repaired and replaced. Power for the equipment can be from batteries or electricity, and it could even be connected to the internet. The tombstone can also contain a camera and microphone, so visitors to the grave can leave messages for future visitors to the grave. The tombstone can also include a pay-per-view coin operated or credit card operated activation device if the deceased wanted to charge money to help earn money for their estate or help pay for the upkeep of the tombstone.

"The Video Enhanced Gravemarker will have some interesting implications on some major aspects of civilization," according to the inventor, Robert Barrows. It will also create some interesting free speech issues. Here are some of the social implications:

1) It will change the way we look at life and death.

When you start recording your own obituary while you are still alive, it will force you to examine things about your life that you may not even have considered before.

2) It will change the way that history is told.

Now you will be able to go to video tombstones and get the story from the people themselves. (Of course, it will indeed be their side of the story, and depending on what they say, and how they view things, that may also create some interesting controversies.)

3) The advent of the video tombstone may also create many changes in estate law.

People may have to specify that yes, they do want a video tombstone, or no they do not want a video tombstone. (Jeff Zaslow of the Wall Street Journal covered this angle of the invention in his April 7, 2005 Moving On column.)

And Barrows adds, "If the person doesn't make a video prior to death, or if they don't specify who may make a video and what people can say in a posthumous video, will survivors be able to to make a video to be played in their tombstone, and will there be limits on the content of the messages?"

4) "It will also create a whole new genre of storytelling with stories told through video tombstones. The video tombstone is an incredible storytelling device that is likely to inspire countless tales that will be told through video tombstones," according to Barrows. The video tombstone is an ideal storytelling device for everything from horror movies to love stories to historical pieces, and it is perfect for all kinds of literary, film and television projects.

While Barrows was working on his patent application, he also wrote a novel called "Cemetery of Lies." "Cemetery of Lies" is a collection of intimate secret confessions, as told from beyond the grave, through video tombstones. The stories are about life and love, sex and romance, good and evil, success and money, truth and lies and Heaven and Hell, with insights and advice about almost every aspect of our lives," according to Barrows.

"What kinds of secrets would you divulge for playback (or payback) after you are gone?" asks Barrows. "And if you knew you were going to die today, what kinds of things would you say for your own video tombstone?" he asks. "That is what 'Cemetery of Lies' is about, and it is an easy read for a mass audience, and the writing is sexy, provocative and humorous, too."

Publishers, literary agents and producers interested in taking a look at "Cemetery of Lies" may request a copy of the manuscript by contacting Robert Barrows at R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising and Public Relations in Burlingame, California at 650-344-1951.

5) In addition, the advent of the Video Tombstone will also create two new industries:

A) Manufacturing Video tombstones, and

B) producing content for use in video tombstones

6) "Video Tombstones will also make cemeteries fascinating places to visit because who knows what kind of juicy stories might be entombed in the video tombstones of both celebrities and ordinary people," asks Barrows. "And who knows who was doing what with whom?" he adds. "Perhaps we shall find out from their video tombstone?"

7) "The Video Tombstone will also create some landmark free speech issues because how can you control what someone might say from beyond the grave?" he asks.

    *And will it be truth or lies?
    *What if someone confesses to a crime or makes an incrimination?
    *What if they say something slanderous?
    *What if they say something hurtful and cause emotional stress?
    *What if they say something anti-governmental?
    *Do the dead have free speech rights, too?
    *And what can you do if they say something true or untrue about you?
    *Can you pull the plug, and whom can you sue?
    *Worse yet, how can you collect?
"Generally, cemeteries have the right of refusal over what kind of tombstones can go into their cemetery, and they also have the right of censorship regarding what can be said in an inscription on a tombstone. It is quite possible that censorship of video tombstone messages may develop into first amendment lawsuits that might go all the way to the Supreme Court," says Barrows.

Companies that would be interested in acquiring the rights to manufacture or market the Video Enhanced Gravemarker should contact Robert Barrows at R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising and Public Relations in Burlingame, California. Likewise, companies that would be interested in becoming suppliers of some of the electronic equipment that can be housed in the video tombstone should contact Barrows as well.

The Video Enhanced Gravemarker was invented by Robert Barrows and the patent has been assigned to R.M. Barrows, Inc.

Barrows came up with the idea for this invention through two different avenues. One, he is a sculptor who works in stone and, "When you are chipping away at a rectangular block of stone," he says, "you can't help thinking that you are carving your own tombstone." (You can see some of his sculpture and download a free brochure of the sculpture at

He also produces television commercials, so if you put the video and the tombstone together, you have a video tombstone. Additionally, he was looking for a specific book one day about Wyatt Earp. The book was "My Friend Wyatt Earp" by Doc Holliday. When Barrows went to the library's card catalog, he didn't find the book by Doc Holliday, but he did find about two hundred other books about Wyatt Earp, none of which were by Doc Holliday, and none written by Wyatt Earp. Then, at the end of the cards in the card catalog, there was a listing for the Video: "Tombstone," (a movie about Wyatt Earp). Wyatt Earp is buried in Colma, California, just a short drive away from where Barrows lives, and Barrows thought, "Wouldn't it be interesting to be able to go to the grave of Wyatt Earp, and hear what Earp might have had to say about his own life in his own words, from a video tombstone?"

Realizing the ghoulish implications of the video tombstone, Barrows filed his patent application on the Video Enhanced Gravemarker on Halloween in 2002.

To find out more about the Video Enhanced Gravemarker and "Cemetery of Lies," contact Robert Barrows at R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising and Public Relations in Burlingame, California at 650-344-1951.

In addition to doing advertising and sculpture, Robert Barrows also recently ran for Congress in the Democratic Primary on June 6, 2006 in the 12th Congressional District in California.

To find out specific information about the patent, you may go to the U.S. Patent Office website at To find out additional information about Robert Barrows, you may go to

To arrange an interview with Robert Barrows, call 650-344-1951 or e-mail him at

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