e-rosary? No, thanks

The one device that every Catholic needs. Not.

e-rosary? No, thanks /img/click-to-pray-no-thanks.jpg

The recently announced “Click To Pray eRosary” is an interactive, smart and app-driven wearable device that serves as a tool for learning how to pray the rosary. More in detail, the eRosary:

  1. Physically consists of ten consecutive black agate and hematite rosary beads, and of a smart cross which “stores all the technological data connected to the app”
  2. can be worn as a bracelet and is activated by making the sign of the cross.
  3. is synchronized with a free app of the same name, which allows access to an audio guide, exclusive images and personalized content about the praying of the Rosary.
  4. is aimed at the peripheral frontiers of the digital world where the young people dwell

A “Smart”… Cross. A Cross???

Catholics “preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (Corinthians 1:23). Until today, that is. Folly was yesterday. Now the Cross itself is Smart.

Calling the Catholic Cross “Smart” as in “smart fridge”, “smart home” and so on sounds… real weird to me, but that may be just grumpy old me.

Still, what feels to me not a good idea here is not the “smart” part. It is the cross itself, that is the physical object.

eRosary isn’t the first “prayer app” on the block. Even prayer apps are useful, and do have a reason to exist. There are tens of others, and probably many hundreds prayer apps worldwide, counting just the major religions. And all of them, eRosary included, may potentially suffer the same, huge issues of any other smartphone app: privacy, profiling and so on (the Vatican News post says nothing on this score).

But that cross…

e-rosary? No, thanks /img/click-to-pray-no-thanks.jpg

What I find debatable in eRosary, and in its endorsement, is adding to an app, that would be perfectly usable and useful by itself, a physical object that:

  • is pure consumerism: to use the app, one must replace her existing Rosary, the one so non-smart that… would work forever
  • is electronic, that is almost surely destined to become even more non-recyclable e-waste
  • mostly serves to show off. What need there is to “activate the app by making the sign of the cross”?
  • in one sentence, seems just one more useless addition to the Internet of Useless Things
  • (added on Nov. 26th): oh, and the app itself, by not being Open Source, will some day become non-upgradable. This screenshot from the eRosary page just an anticipation of a sure, maybe close future for all eRosary users:
e-rosary? No, thanks /img/erosary-does-not-work.png
If your prayer procedures need software updates, you are doing them wrong


One final word about targeting, if I may

“Aimed at the peripheral frontiers of the digital world where the young people dwell”? On what grounds the frontiers (assuming that is an appropriate word here) where the young people dwell would be “peripheral”? I’m confused.