Bios Incube turns ashes of cremated bodies into trees

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The developers of a biodegradable urn that turns the ashes of a dead person into a tree have designed an incubator to aid the growth process (+ slideshow).

The Bios Incube designed by Bios Urn in Barcelona, Spain

The Bios Incube is the latest development from Bios Urn, the startup behind the biodegradable urn that holds cremated ashes and comes with a seed inside that grows into a tree.

The Bios Incube designed by Bios Urn in Barcelona, Spain

When the urn is buried in the soil-filled smart incubator, users can monitor the progress of the plant's growth using a smartphone app.

The Bios Incube designed by Bios Urn in Barcelona, Spain

The Bios Incube is described as the "first tree incubator designed for the afterlife" by its designers.

The Bios Incube designed by Bios Urn in Barcelona, Spain

"More and more people are looking for environmentally conscious and economically feasible ways to bury those who have passed, and the Bios Incube offers that and more," said the Bios Urn team.



"It has been designed for city dwellers, those seeking alternatives to cemeteries, and for people who want to meaningfully connect with their loved ones who have passed away," they added.

The Bios Incube designed by Bios Urn in Barcelona, Spain

Bios Urn was originally developed in 1997 by Spanish designer Gerard Moliné, who relaunched the product in 2013 with his brother Roger.

The Bios Incube, launched on Kickstarter earlier this month, is equipped with a built-in self-watering system that is triggered by a sensor device attached to the surface of the soil.

The Bios Incube designed by Bios Urn in Barcelona, Spain

Water is held within a double-skin that surrounds the soil inside, then automatically released through a valve when needed.

The sensor also monitors moisture and temperature in the atmosphere and soil, while detecting levels of light exposure and assessing electrical conductivity.

The Bios Incube designed by Bios Urn in Barcelona, Spain

All the data collected from the sensors is then combined and sent to a smartphone app – allowing users to remotely check on their tree, while providing them with advice for optimum maintenance.

Once the tree has sprouted, it can be removed from the incubator and planted in a desired location.

The Bios Incube designed by Bios Urn in Barcelona, Spain

The designers believe that the urn will change the way people think about death by "converting the end of life into a transformation and a return to life through nature."

"The topic of death and the process of grief is often sterilised and avoided in conversation for fear of being too taboo to discuss – we want to change that," said Roger and Gerard Moliné.

The Bios Incube designed by Bios Urn in Barcelona, Spain

"We believe the end of human life is a remarkable event that has the ability to teach us if we let it," they added.

The Bios Incube is currently halfway towards its €60,000 (£46,500) goal on Kickstarter, with 26 days left of the crowdfunding campaign at the time of writing. If the project is successful, deliveries of the incubators for backers are expected to commence in May 2016.

The Bios Incube designed by Bios Urn in Barcelona, Spain
The Bios Urn is planted in the incubator, where a sensor monitors its water levels to help growth before it is removed and replanted

Other designers have also created alternative products for holding cremated remains. Neil Conley's non-traditional interpretation involves urns constructed from carbon fibre, while Mark Sturkenboom designed a "memory box" containing a dildo with a compartment for storing the ashes of a deceased partner.

The Bios Incube designed by Bios Urn in Barcelona, Spain
Exploded diagram of the Bios Incube sensor
  • Ash

    This is a lovely idea. It could be awkward if you forget to water it and it dies though…

    • Hey Ash! We thought about that, so we designed the Bios Incube with a built-in irrigation system that can sustain your tree for up to 20 days, all on it’s own! The Bios Incube has been created in a way that ensures growth, regardless of one’s gardening abilities! :) Let us know if you have more questions.

  • wila

    To facilitate the growth of a tree would be a noble posthumous aspiration, but think I would much prefer to do so out in a forest, a grove, a park, roadside, garden, backyard – somewhere my tree could do what trees do: beautify, nourish, shelter, guard, and inspire!

    Also, is there a way to be cremated that is sensitive to minimising carbon footprint? No fossil fuels? If not, unless I am deceased, perhaps I would ask to be donated to a food bank for wolves or other endangered species. (Although then the concern would be misguided well intentioned human intervention in the ecosystem – we always screw it up. Not a good idea to teach wild animals to look to humans as dispensers of sustenance.)

    • Hello Wila,

      Since the first six months of growing a tree are the most difficult, the Bios Incube has been created to help facilitate this process. Once the tree has grown and reached adequate size, it can be replanted in a more natural environment, like a forest!

      Good news is the Bios Incube can be used over and over to grow other plants and trees. As far as cremation goes, there is “green cremation”, however it is not as wide spread. At the present moment, cremation appears to be the best option available that combats the decreased burial space available in cemeteries.

  • Dylan Milne

    Umm… Isn’t cremation rather harmful in the first place – the furnace uses the average energy consumption of a person for a month and then the furnace emits all of the bad waste you may have brought into the furnace, 16% of mercury emissions in the UK are from cremations due to fillings.

    Then you have the coffins themselves. They are sometimes veneered plastic or they’re simply wood, whatever more emissions…

    A woodland burial, to me, offers the proper route. I know you point out green cremations but they still appear more harmful.

  • Jack Oliver

    Is it a bit awkward to send this link to family and friends?

  • V N

    Hipster nonsense. The first world is doomed.

  • Khan

    Seed grows into a tree and uses ashes in combination, but that doesn’t make life transform into another living being.