These bizarre burial concepts go way beyond coffins

Shoot your ashes out from the edge of space or treat your mourners to a hologram at your funeral. Check out these creative ideas for going out with flair.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
1 of 13 Creative Coffins

Customize your coffin

Dying doesn't have to mean settling for a standard-issue casket. These days, you can go out in style with a 3D-printed Darth Vader urn or rest forever inside a computer case.

Creative Coffins in the UK specializes in customized coffins wrapped with bright imagery depicting anything you want.

The coffins themselves are made from cardboard and are suitable for cremation, burial or environmentally friendly green burials. You can get almost any design you want, whether it's a tribute to your favorite sci-fi show or a photo of yourself dressed in your favorite cosplay outfit.

2 of 13 Cremation Solutions

3D-printed head urn

This unsettling-looking creation is an example of a 3D-printed urn designed to hold your loved one's ashes in a replica version of that person's head.

Urn seller Cremation Solutions offers the urns in full size and smaller keepsake versions. Yes, you have to be a special kind of person to want a head urn.

3 of 13 Imaginactive

Self-driving hearse concept

Canadian creative group Imaginactive shared an unusual concept in 2017 that hits on multiple buzzwords: death, self-driving cars and holograms.

The Aeternal consists of a self-driving hearse that could be equipped with a hologram projector for casting images of the dead, along with a surround sound system to provide a soundtrack. It's a bit bonkers, but it provides a sci-fi vision for the future of funerals.

4 of 13 Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET

Ashes from space

Embrace your love for the cosmos from beyond the grave with a special service from Mesoloft, a company that will carry your ashes to the edge of space and release them from far above the planet's surface.

Those ashes could eventually return to Earth as the seeds of raindrops or snowflakes. A standard launch package costs $4,500 (£3,700, AU$6,000) and includes a full video of the entire trip.

5 of 13 Sam 3:14/Dave Watson

Ashes in a computer

When William Alan Watson passed away in 2009, his brother Dave memorialized him by placing his ashes in a computer case.

"I kept the floppy drive cover but for space reasons removed the floppy drive, hard drive, and most of the power supply. I left behind the motherboard and power switch and plugs to keep all openings covered," Dave wrote on Flickr.

The computer case bears a plaque and the inscription reads, "Beam me up Scotty. I'm done here."

6 of 13 Resomation

Turn yourself to liquid

Forget cremation. In 2011, Scottish company Resomation made news with a machine that turns mortal remains into liquid and ash. The method uses a pressurized stainless steel tank and immerses the body in a heated mixture of water and potassium hydroxide. The bones then get crushed up, with implants and fillings recovered from the remains. Yep, the leftover liquid is flushable.

7 of 13 Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Han Solo in carbonite coffin

If you're a die-hard Star Wars fan, you might consider carrying that sci-fi love to the grave with a Han- Solo-trapped-in-carbonite coffin. The creators modified a real coffin and sculpted it to look like the Star Wars prop for the webseries "Super-Fan Builds" in 2015. The one-off coffin's also designed to act as a coffee table until needed for its original purpose.

8 of 13 Urns For Ashes

Darth Vader urn

If a coffin showing Han Solo in carbonite isn't your style, you can still send your remains to a galaxy far, far away with a Darth Vader helmet urn for your ashes. The 3D-printed vessel comes from UK company Urns for Ashes, which makes customized urns. Urns for Ashes also created a Death Star urn for those who want to explore more of the dark side.

9 of 13 Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET

Ride a cremation simulator

You don't have to wait for death to experience cremation. A Shanghai attraction called Xinglai ("Awaken") opened in 2016 to take riders through a cremation simulator.

It gets weirder. The rider travels on a conveyor belt through a fiery-looking tunnel and then gets "reborn" at the other end through a latex womb.

The ride is supposed to help you put your troubles and worries into perspective. That lukewarm latte you were served at Starbucks doesn't seem like such a big deal anymore when you're staring into a cremation tunnel.

10 of 13 Hamid Bekradi

Futuristic Last Ride

In the future, getting buried won't mean giving up all the trappings of the past. Designer Hamid Bekradi's forward-looking Last Ride concept completely reimagines the traditional horse-drawn funeral carriage of yesteryear.

The concept uses hubless wheels hidden inside the round carriage body. The wheels are only visible where they touch the ground. Bekradi says this would make it look like the carriage is levitating. What a stylish way to go out.

11 of 13 William Warren

Shelves in life, coffin in death

A coffin isn't usually the sort of thing you buy in advance and then just keep around the house. Furniture designer William Warren created the Shelves for Life concept in 2005 as a way for coffins to pull double duty as functional shelves until needed for their original purpose.

The wood shelves have an attractive, modern design, so nobody will suspect they can be taken apart and reassembled into a coffin. Warren encourages people to make their own versions based on his design.

12 of 13 Objecs

High-tech headstone tells a story

In 2010, US company Objecs made a splash with its Memorial RosettaStone Tablet, an NFC-enabled gadget meant to attach to a headstone. The small device contains a microchip with a stately granite cover. It was meant to hold photos, messages and personal information about the deceased, all readily accessible to anyone with an NFC-equipped phone.

Objecs no longer offers the Memorial RosettaStone, but the idea of a high-tech headstone lives on.

13 of 13 Pobrežje cemetery

Digital headstone

A new digital marker installed at the Pobrezje cemetery in Slovenia takes the "stone" out of "gravestone." The interactive iTernal headstone comes from Slovenian company Bioenergija and features a 48-inch (1.2 meter) screen capable of sharing videos, photos or just about any other content you can put on a display. When people come near the tombstone, a sensor registers their presence and activates the content. Otherwise, it just displays the deceased person's name and birth and death dates.

The iTernal tombstone costs about $3,189 (£2.570, AU$4,240), according to Reuters, with the Pobrezje sample the first to be installed.

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