What about the dash?
While in a family cemetery in rural Georgia, I was reading the headstones of my ancestors and realized that the sum total of the story being told was encapsulated in a simple line showing data of birth, a dash, and date of death. I wondered what each person did, how they felt, what their ambitions were. I was saddened that the story of their life could not be told or immediately known. I wanted to know who they were and weave the stories of their lives together so I could walk with them and understand how their life and my life were connected thorough time. I also wanted to be able to tell these stories to my children in a way that they would find meaningful. That's when I hit on an idea.
Stories and Smart Phones
Living Ancestry takes the information about someone's life and converts it to a fully functioning mobile app so that the story can be shared in multiple ways such as a QR code, email, text message, etc. Anyone receiving the information or scanning the code can access the story in a format most familiar to them on the most used devices on the planet.
The QR code, automatically generated by Living Ancestry for each individual added to the system, is the link to the past that can be printed in family albums, uploaded to ancestry sites and printed on metal plates and permanently affixed to headstones. Anyone with a smartphone can scan the code and be immediately presented with a mobile enabled application containing the complete story of the individual. Detailed biography, genealogy, ordinances, video, photo slideshows and more are immediately delivered to the user.
How I built it
I used an SaaS model to deliver a website login page to a registered account member. Once logged in the user simply adds the name of the person being profiled and instantly a mobile app is built complete with the corresponding unique QR code. Then, the user opens each blank page canvas and as easy as writing a letter in Word the person completes the section. Adding video, documents, photos is easy and the formatting is done for the user behind the scenes. No need fr anyone to know complex photo or video editing. Each section, once saved is immediately available on the corresponding navigation page of the mobile app.
Challenges I ran into
The primary challenge was converting the data on a website form page to a mobile app and then matching that to a unique QR code that belongs to only the individual whose story is being told. Each part by itself isn't too difficult but to connect all three and make them act as one process was much more difficult.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I'm very proud of this app. I built it to solve a problem and have been able to price it so anyone can create and share the stories of their ancestors. I think this benefits everyone but especially the next generation.
What I learned
I learned there is always much less time than you think when working with a deadline!
What's next for Living-Ancestry
Three things. First, I would like to connect this app to more Ancestral sites than just FamilySearch. Second, I would also like to connect the information together so that when a code is scanned, connected family member stories can also be accessed and viewed as a collection of family stories and memories. Third, I am working on a way to provide an app and a QR code that can be added to every veteran's grave site in the US for free.
Living-Ancestry website and application will debut on opening day of the 2016 RootsTech convention in Salt Lake City.