2020 has been a difficult year for everyone. Many have had loved ones lost to COVID and all of us are reminded of how fleeting and precious life is. To give back during these difficult times, we wanted to create a service that people could use to remember their loved ones forever and have an eternal record for future generations to come. It also gives people comfort that they will have a way to start storing memories of themselves should something happen to them so that their families will always have something to remember them by.

Obituaries today are created to recount a loved one’s life and their memories. However, these are printed in a newspaper and must be saved in order to pass it down. It also relies on family members keeping photos, obituaries and other keepsakes together for future generations to be able to get a good picture of what that person was like. We wanted to use the power of blockchain to create a blockchain stored obituary which is created by the family of the deceased which will be stored to the blockchain to remember the beloved one by. Future generations can access the information stored in the blockchain and can look at photos, keepsakes and anything else the family chooses to store for their family to remember them by. Additionally, because of these tough times, we wanted to enable donation payments that would allow anyone to donate to the family of the deceased or even a charity of the family’s choice.

What it does

We allow anyone to create an online obituary that will live on the blockchain inside a transaction. With blockchain (i.e. decentralized technology), anyone’s memory can now “live” eternal on the blockchain since a blockchain is unchanging and permanent. Unlike websites, which require maintenance and servers to be active, a blockchain will exist forever, even if work to the blockchain stops so it’s the perfect way to capture memories of a loved one’s life for all future generations to remember them by.

For the donation aspect, because we realize that people’s donation addresses may change or the charities they choose to donate to may change in the future, we didn’t want to permanently hardcode donation addresses. This is where PayID was the perfect solution. By leveraging the PayID protocol, we write the address of the PayID to the blockchain instead of permanent addresses, and this PayID address can be changed by the family deceased anytime in the future.

How I built it

We use web3 technologies to retrieve and store to the blockchain and also Ganche/Truffle to write the smart contract that users will create the obituary to and include the data inside the transaction. Anyone then can view the data and see the image of the deceased as well as the description of the obituary. Finally, we deployed PayID and used our domain, Obituary.Space, as the PayID domain to look up addresses for retrieval of the donation addresses.

To be able to change a donation address, we require a user to prove they own the address that created the transaction. We do this by cryptographically signing a message, which generates a signature, and then verifying the message with the public key. The public key is the original wallet address which created the obituary. If the signatures match, then we allow the user to update the PayID details. If they don’t, then they cannot change the address as they have not verified that they own the wallet address.

Challenges I ran into

We aren’t blockchain developers so it was a bit of a learning curve. However, we’re proud of the final product, which writes to a real testnet and not just a local host. It was great to learn about PayID and the challenges it solves in fixing address issues. It opens the doors to be able to do so much more off the blockchain which doesn’t exist today.

What’s next for Obituary.Space

We will be releasing the contracts to mainnet and collect feedback from people who use it. It’s a free service and we hope that this brings a little comfort to people whose loved ones have passed because they have an eternal way to remember those loved ones by. We hope this also contributes to the blockchain community and to the PayID community and we look forward to hearing how we can improve this for people. We also hope that people can overcome hardships with COVID with the donation option through the PayID integration.

This is a live product, but we are currently using the Rinkeby network. To try out the app live, first get some test tokens on the Rinkeby faucet site, then try out the app afterwards. We will be launching into mainnet with PayID after we do some more testing and tweak the UI a bit more.

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