Smart Urn of the Future Nurtures a Tree With the Ashes of a Loved One

©. Bios Urn

With the public launch of the Incube for the Bios Urn, growing and nurturing a young tree from the earthly remains of a relative or pet just got easier.

TreeHugger has been covering the alternative and green burial scene for years, and we first wrote about the Bios Urn concept, which offers a space for the ashes of a loved one or pet and then enables the growing of a tree from it, back in 2005. In 2014, Margaret wrote about the launch of the actual product itself, and then just last year, I covered the company's crowdfunding campaign for its Incube accessory, which is an app-controlled tree incubator designed to cradle the Bios Urn and enable optimal growth of the tree planted in it.

Since the successful Kickstarter campaign, the company has made some additional changes, updates, and refinements to the Incube, and has now launched the device publicly, with hundreds of orders placed for it over the last few months alone. The Bios Urn is still available on its own, but the Incube allows for precise monitoring of soil moisture and nutrients, air temperature, growth, and more, and enables autonomous watering (including a 5-gallon tank for up to 3 weeks worth of watering). The Incube connects to WiFi for relaying data and alerts (the internet of trees?) and uses internal batteries to power its monitoring and watering systems, which require a 30-minute charge every three weeks.

The Incube was designed with the need to eventually transplant the tree from the device into the ground, after which it can be used again with another Bios Urn, and the company says the Incube is "produced entirely with ‘cradle-to-cradle’ materials and methods." I wonder if multiple reuse is really an effective selling point, however, because even though we know that people die all the time, including those we know, most of us don't want to confront the fact that we'll have to deal with many deaths of loved ones over the years, much less plan for it. Regardless, the reusable nature of the Incube (and the biodegradable nature of the Urn) speak to the company's mission of bringing a smart, sustainable and eco-friendly solution to something that is inevitable - death.

"The intent of the Bios Incube is to offer people a sustainable alternative for remembering deceased persons or pets in a natural and contemporary way. Everyone has the right to affordable, sustainable death care. The Bios Incube has been designed for city dwellers with limited access to natural land, those seeking an alternative to traditional burials, and for people who want to meaningfully connect with their loved ones who have passed away." - Bios Urn

According to the company website, "Bios aims to change the way people see death, converting the “end of life” into a transformative process and promoting a return to life through nature." This idea, of helping people create a living legacy of a loved one instead of burying them in a cemetery, can obviously be done at home without purchasing a special urn or incubator, but by putting together a purpose-made urn and combining it with a smart growing device that can help shepherd the young tree to transplantable size, it can enable a greater chance of success for the average person, who may not have the growing skills to nurture it from seed to sapling. And because it's designed primarily for indoor use (though it could be placed outside), and it looks good, it's a great option for those who don't have a yard to plant a tree in, and for those who want a beautiful living reminder of their loved one in their home instead of just an urn on the shelf.

Spread leaves, not ashes. The Bios Urn costs $145, and the Incube is priced at $450, with additional features available from the Incube+ ($550). More info and FAQs at the website.