Vincenzo Rusciano dies every day. The 35-year-old Italian is the founder of a new service that allows people to send text, photo and video messages to people after they have passed away. Each day, to make sure that it still works, Rusciano theoretically dies.
The idea behind Heavenote is that the pain felt by the friends and loved ones of the deceased will be eased by a "message from Heaven". Unlike other digital legacy services that focus on asset administration, Rusciano's service aims to deal with the emotional legacy.
"Whilst working in Barcelona, I saw a number of bad accidents whilst on my motorbike and wondered how I'd get the chance to say goodbye to the people important to me when my time came," Rusciano said. "This hit home when a friend of mine suddenly passed away."
People signing up to the service are asked to submit a message in their desired format and then select how they would like their death to be confirmed. They can choose between either a self-check method of responding to a message from Heavenote or a friend-check method that involves a trusted contact entering a unique code to confirm the death.
One of the first users of Heavenote is furniture designer Pierre Canal, 30, who revealed he decided to use the service after his wife fell pregnant. "I suddenly realised I'd feel safer to know I could still communicate with my baby girl if something unexpected happened to me," he told IBTimes UK. "Also, I wanted her to know we loved her from the first time we knew about the pregnancy.
"I thought a nice feature would be to prepare a specific message for a specific event like my child's birthday, so even if I pass away I could be there for her and wish her happy birthday. I would be able to imagine how she would be, what she would do and I could tell her what I was doing or where I was at her age."
Heavenote was inspired by the film P.S. I Love You, though it is also reminiscent of the Black Mirror episode Be Right Back. In the critically acclaimed Charlie Brooker TV show, a grieving widow kept in touch with her dead partner through a predictive software package.
Despite the measures put in place, there is still a risk that a user might miss an email, resulting in friends and loved ones being sent an erroneous message that the user is dead. For Canal, though, this eventuality is not a concern. "To be honest, it wasn't a worry," Canal said. "It would actually be a nice surprise to discover that I am still alive."