Muslims typically pray five times daily in a routine based on the sun's position. But in cloudy weather, or indoors, keeping the schedule can be tricky.
A new mobile phone application developed at Georgia Institute of Technology reminds users when its time to pray. But unlike similar applications that rely on text commands in a "pray now" fashion, Sun Dial uses audible prompts combined with graphics of the sun and green circles that show a direction for prayer and suggest a general time.
The software is based on what Muslim focus groups said they wanted.
"Unlike similar systems, ours relies on graphics rather than text and graphs to communicate prayer times," said Susan Wyche, doctoral candidate in the university's computing department. "Users drove this choice by telling us that tracking the sun was the most religiously valued method to determine prayer times."
The product has been tested in the Atlanta area and is being refined to include a digital clock and a vibration alert. They plan is to make it available as a download.
In another new convergence of religion and technology, the web site Information Age Prayer charges a monthly fee to say prayers for you. A typical charge is $4.95 per month to say three prayers specified by you each day.