Acer launches 'smart prayer beads' for Buddhists

Leap Beads allow worshippers to focus on devotions instead of counting mantras by keeping score of mala rotations for them on smartphones

Joe Sommerlad
Wednesday 07 March 2018 09:56 GMT
The company's new Leap Beads for Taiwan's Buddhist market
The company's new Leap Beads for Taiwan's Buddhist market

Taiwanese hardware company Acer has launched a new product aimed at helping devout Buddhists say their prayers.

Acer's Leap Beads, effectively smart prayer beads, help practising Buddhists count the number of times they have chanted their mantra with a chip tracking how often the mala has been rotated through their hands.

One complete turn marks one mantra, with the results displayed on the user's smartphone once the chip has been synched to their device.

"The intent is to help people concentrate on the mantra versus being distracted by counting the times the mantra is recited," the company said.

The beads will initially only be made available for sale in Taiwan - priced at 3,888 Taiwanese dollars (£95.80) - but could be rolled out to other countries if they prove popular.

With an estimated 500m Buddhists in the world, there could certainly be a market for them.

They also have the potential to be upgraded to offer other services, according to Acer, such as electronic payments.

While technology might at first seem anathema to the anti-materialist world of Zen, this is not the case. The Dalai Lama has his own app and 18m Twitter followers.

Outsiders are often shocked by the use of tech as a tool of enlightenment, however.

In Werner Herzog's documentary Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World (2016), the great German director observes practitioners of the faith in Chicago stood beside a great lake, not contemplating the clear sky or the surface of the water but enjoying the still, soothing glow from their smartphones.

"Have the monks stopped meditating?" Herzog asks, bewildered.

"Have they stopped praying? They all seem to be tweeting."

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