The Vatican might not be renowned as a bastion of tech and innovation, but there are glimmers of hope the institution might just be modernizing. The Verge says that there are a fair few nods to the Vatican coming into this century, including this week’s advent of the transforming the faithful rosary — taking the idea of a modern fitness tracker and making a $110 bracelet that monitors your praying routine.

Track your prayers and paces

The Click To Pray eRosary is an app-driven piece of wearable tech that is designed to instill rosary prayers into wearers, aiming for world peace. It’s worn on the wrist and making the sign of the cross gets it going. You also get a free app replete with exclusive images, an audio guide, and personalized content about rosary praying. Your health as well as your prayers are tracked, monitoring your steps so you can even consider binning your activity tracker.

App-based religious rituals

There’s a reasonable level of intuition in the app, prompting you to charge your device when needed. The aim of the makers is to make it accessible to everyone and is specifically targeted at the more youthful faithful. The Click To Pray eRosary is a tool that harnesses tech to teach kids to pray the Rosary and bring them closer to the Gospel. It could be seen as a perfect merging of religious tradition with the latest advances in technology. 

eRosary. Image credit: dailymail.co.uk

Tracking each prayer as you go

The actual device is made from ten black share and hematite rosary beads, along with a smart cross where the tech data and connectivity are stored. There are different rosaries the user can pray, whether they want the standard trope, contemplative prayer,  or one of many other rosaries that update over the course of the year. The app will display the devotee’s progress through the mysteries and logs each completed rosary.

The Pope himself will be using the device

The new piece of kit is part of the “Click to Pray” brand, which is the Pope’s official prayer app for his Worldwide Prayer Network, on which he even has his own personal profile. The network brings together thousands of people who pray every day. The Click to Pray eRosary will accompany the Pope on the completion of his daily and monthly intentions and increase the knowledge of the gospel around the world.

The specs of the device are:

  • Six-axis inertial sensing
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • IP67 water and dust resistant
  • Wireless charging
  • a 15mAh lithium-ion battery
  • 10 black agate beads and 11 hematite beads

It’s being sold on Amazon Italy and Acer’s Italian storefront, which can both be accessed in English too. It’s on sale now for $110 or €90.

eRosary unboxing. Image credit: Pulse.ng

Although the institution is rather ancient, there’s been a few nods to the church bringing itself up to date in recent years. Not only does Pope Francis have his own Instagram account, but the Vatican is using messaging app Telegram to keep in touch with congregations over Lent. There have been a few forays into technology and innovation, it’ll be interesting to follow where their next steps take them. 

UPDATE: There’s been a pretty big vulnerability uncovered in the Vatican’s smart rosary, cybersecurity researcher Baptiste Robert has announced. The potential hack would allow those with I’ll intent to log into the accounts of users using just their email, CNET has reported.

The chink in the app’s armour took the researcher around 15 minutes, with him saying an attacker could easily find and steal personal information from users. Purely as an experiment, Robert accessed the account of the editor of CNET multiple times. The data he was able to view including the account holder’s gender, birthday, height, and weight. There was no immediate response from the Vatican although the vulnerability seems to have been patched since coming to light.