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Finding Mecca the High-Tech Way: With a Light-Up Prayer Mat

The fabric glows when the pious point it toward the Muslim holy city.

Typically, to find the location of Mecca for the necessary five prayers per day, the world's 1.6-billion Muslims might use a Qibla compass or a street sign. Outdoorsy types might use the sun's location or moss on the trees. But in a world of ubiquitous GPS, surely there has to be a better, or at least nerdier, way.

Enter the Soner Ozenc Product Design Studio, which has crafted a prayer mat fit for the modern needs of any gadget-loving believer. Nicknamed EL Sajjadah – EL for "Electro Luminescent" and Sajjadah for "prayer mat" – the fantastic fabric is gathering donations right now on Kickstarter, although it's still significantly short of its $100,000 realization point. Here's how London's Soner Ozenc describes his invention, which has consumed $30,000 in research, six years in design and 10,000 words in a college thesis:

EL Sajjadah is thin and flexible. You can roll it and carry it around in its special case. EL Sajjadah is not only a functional / practical product but also a unique art piece that you can hang on the wall as a night light.

The EL Sajjadah eliminates any guesswork in the process of facing Mecca by actually glowing when oriented in the proper direction. It does this using electroluminescent printing and by correlating the heading from a built-in digital compass with the user's particular city, which he or she keys in on the mat before getting down to business.

The design on the fabric is a story in itself. A mosque is etched in green, a holy shade in Islam, and there's an abstract snake pattern representing hell and a mosque at the center of "heaven." Little outlines of hands and feet help guide the user to the proper squat. No word on how much this pious product weighs, but if you don't like lugging its power cord around there's the option of rechargable batteries. (H/t Core77.)

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.