Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a mobile phone application known as Sun Dial, which alerts Muslim users when it's time to perform the five daily prayers known as salat.
Sun Dial tells users that the time to pray is approaching by using an image of the sun lining up with a green circle. When the sun lines up with the circle, it's time to pray.
Designing technology for religious use is be very different from designing devices for traditional uses in office settings, according to Susan Wyche of the Institute's College of Computing.
Speed not important
"Efficiency and productivity tend to be driving forces when designing technology for offices, but these are not as central when designing applications for the home or religious settings. Why would you design a device that makes someone pray faster?" she said.
Wyche focused on Islam for her project partly because Muslims have historically used technology such as compasses and telescopes to help them determine the direction to face during prayer.
"Unlike similar systems, ours relies on graphics rather than text and graphs to communicate prayer times," says Wyche. "Users drove this choice by telling us that tracking the sun was the most religiously valued method to determine prayer times."
Wyche is currently working on incorporating a digital clock and vibration alert, and is planning on making the application available for download.
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Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.