Buddhists go high-tech: Acer to launch smart prayer beads

January 30, 2018 17:06
Acer has developed smart Buddhist prayer beads that count the number of times a mantra is recited and incorporate an app that transfers merits to loved ones. Photo: kknews

Taiwanese computer and technology firm Acer is set to launch a new smart product: Buddhist prayer beads that automatically count the number of times a mantra is recited and transfer merits to a social media platform.

It’s reported that the Buddhist beads have already received tens of thousands of orders even before the official launch.

The smart product looks just like traditional Buddhist prayer beads except that one of the beads has an embedded chip which can connect with the user’s smartphone and show the number of times a mantra is recited on the mobile app.

That would help users concentrate on the mantra rather than be distracted by the task of counting the number of times the mantra is recited.

Also, the app has a function to transfer merits to friends and family members, enabling the user to use the social network to share the love of Buddha.

The smart Buddhist prayer beads will be sold mainly through B2B channels to Buddhist organizations in Taiwan.

Customized functions and looks are also offered for use by specific associations or factions.

Buddhism is the most popular religion in Taiwan, with over 10 million followers or half of the island's population.

Major Buddhist groups have all adopted modern management systems and have set up dedicated teams to manage their official websites and social media platforms.

The smart Buddhist beads also come with fintech functions for electronic payments, facilitating donations and offering discounts at certain shops and restaurants in the Buddhist community.

In fact, there is plenty of room to pack in more functions.

Lotos Network, an American Buddhist group, created a virtual currency called Karma Coin in August last year. Users are able to earn Karma Coins by meditating and teaching Buddhism. The coins could be spent within a special Buddhist community called the Lotos Network.

Here in Hong Kong, several Buddhist temples have also adopted new technologies. For example, Tsz Shan Monastery has developed a mobile GPS app that serves as an audio guide for visitors touring the temple. The app, which uses the Bluetooth Beacon technology, has won a local technology award for the best mobile app.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 30

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist