Cohaco: the smart Buddhist altar that keeps people’s memories alive and strong

When someone close to us passes away, like a parent or grandparent, we each choose to remember them in our own way. Lighting a candle in their memory, or keeping a framed photo on the wall, maybe.

Those kinds of memorial traditions also vary from country to country. Japan takes ‘remembering our ancestors’ seriously. Most people pray in front of a small shrine they’ve set up at home. Light some incense, ring a bell, clap your hands in prayer and bow.

A futuristic way to respect those who’ve passed

The Japanese style of regular prayer at home’s a traditional, sweet and caring way to keep someone special in your thoughts each day. But it’s difficult for many people to keep on doing every single day.

The most traditional wooden shrines you can buy are huge, and heavy. Older houses always had a space set aside for the altar, but you don’t see that on apartment floor plans so much any more.

The interactive ‘Smart Buddhist Altar Cohaco’ helps people maintain that precious ritual within a more modern lifestyle. It’s a compact, portable smart machine, easier to find a convenient storage spot for.

The ‘haco’ (hako, ) bit means ‘box’, and the ‘co’ in front of that’s short for ‘communication’. A box-shaped interactive way to ‘communicate’ with someone who’s no longer alive.

Use tech to feel more in touch with your ancestors

Stand in front of Cohaco, and the sensor at the top will notice and activate the altar. It can recognise different faces, movements and voices – like if it’s an adult talking to ‘Dad’ or the kids asking to see ‘Grandpa’. When you say the name of the person you want to pray for, their image shows up on screen.

Isn’t it nice to see their face again?

The pics and videos for that display are up to you – load them onto a USB stick and plug it into Cohaco’s core. You can put in up to 6 different data sticks to hold more photos and memories.

Pressing the button below the picture (when it’s lit up) activates the incense aroma and bell chime, and then you can start praying. Move away from the altar when you’re done, and it’ll turn itself off automatically.

Still there for all your future special moments

Cohaco reacts to your speech with photo changes, like big smiles if you’ve got good news. And you can set video and voice recordings to play on important days – maybe for a birthday, first day of school, graduation, a wedding day or anniversary.

It really feels like you’re communicating, and that’s gotta be so comforting and reassuring. Except… that person’s gotta pre-record the messages, fully aware they’re prepping it for after they pass away.

In the promo video above, you can see that poor Grandpa crying… knowing he wouldn’t be around to say those words in person. And they’ve given him a list of years of recordings to make. Death happens, in the end, and we all know it… but those videos are more work than writing a will.

At least the person filming knows their messages will eventually be a big source of comfort and happiness for others. That’s 100% worth doing for the loved ones you leave behind.

Follow Japan’s inventions for years to come

‘Smart Buddhist Altar Cohaco’ wasn’t on sale when this blog post went live – it was still a concept without an official release date. It’s a serious project, though, down to the domain name.

From the cute, cool, funny and weird stuff, to unique new gadgets and tech that improve people’s lives, if Japan invents it we’re here to blog about it.

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