For Nigerian Muslims who may find it difficult to locate which direction is the West to carry out their prayers, there is actually nothing to worry about now. This is because a London-based Turkish designer Soner Ozenc, has applied his wealth of knowledge in technology to build entertainment and information into the Muslim prayer mat.
Tagged EL Sajjadah, the new digital prayer mat lights up when it faces Mecca. With the aid of an embedded digital compass, it finds Mecca based on the mat's current location, especially if the user feeds that information to the mat's tiny computer.
Only two prototypes exist and one was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in New York for its show last year on interactive design.
Ozenc said he has not received any negative comments about his invention yet but admits the light is very strong and could be distracting. "But there is an off button on the side. You just turn it to off," said Ozenc.
Ozenc is trying to raise $100,000 through Kickstarter.com, the online fundraising tool, to bring the mat into mass production. If he reaches his goal, for $500, donors can expect one of the first mats out of the factory.
Ozenc who prefers not to share his own religious beliefs, said while working toward a Master's degree in industrial design about 10 years ago, he began reading about flying carpets in literature.
He also studied electro-luminescence, the technology that makes his mat glow, and which he has incorporated into other of his designs, including a wall clock and a decorative butterfly. "The mat doesn't have a religious origin," he said.
In EL Sajjadah, the 'EL' stands for Electro Luminescent and sajjadah means prayer mat in Arabic. The whole mat, which is made partly of neoprene, doesn't glow, but the designs do. "The mosque pattern was drawn pixel by pixel by looking at a small-scale model of Istanbul's Blue Mosque," Ozenc said.