Mohamed Yahia

Hala, 🤩

Indeed, the most exciting part of crafting user experience happens when you are the designer and the user at the same time. As a Muslim, at my last visit to the Great Mosque of Mecca, I had a lot of thoughts and questions about developing the experience of the holy place. Foremost the area and the experience of our movement and the activities’ helpful resources.

Before we start, I would like to appreciate all the efforts Saudi Arabia kingdom do to offer a much better experience. Every visit they surprise me with many new excellent places, services rate becomes higher and higher.

First, let’s define what are the problems you might face during such a holy journey,

Improvements Areas:

  1. It’s very crowded.
  2. Walking roads & Directions inside the great mosque will change several times on the same day.
  3. Any other ideas to help people with disabilities?
  4. You will need some sort of Guideline or a reminder when you are doing Umrah. for example, you may miss counting the rounds you do around the go Kaaba “Tawaf” or even in Safa and Marwa.
  5. It’s much better, for any kind of prayers you do if it is in Arabic — which in many cases, not your mother tongue. for the holy Quran, it’s a must.
  6. A Little mistake, such as holding a big bag, may cause you on security issues, which will lead to leaving it before you enter the holy place with The Secretaries (save boxes) outside, and it’s really another crowded place where you will lose lots of time.

I Believe there are more issues, but for now, that’s what I faced before. So let’s think about possible solutions to those problems.

Security Gates

As is: currently, you have the freedom to enter the holy mosque and stay as long as you want without any warning.

Okay, at this moment, roughly talk there is about 1.8 billion Muslims around the world. Lots of them visit Saudi Arabia several times every single year. To stay in the Holy places in general. Many of them enter the holy place and wait for more than 300 hours each year (as an average, I guess, and it might be more) That cause the traffic in the first place. If we build smart gates, which you can enter using a unique ID Card or even your fingerprint (which will be created & collected for you in the first time you visit Saudi Arabia). and you have a balance of hours (updated every single year), for example, you have only one hundred hours every single year.

The gate will open for you based on your Balance, and it will show you the remaining balance you have at every single entering or exiting. That will impact people behaviour, they will control and count the hours they have, and they will save lots of opportunities for other visitors as well. That will help in solving the problem no 1.

Smart Roads with Traffic Control Engine

As is: currently the security use some kind of dividers, and they create and shape the ways based on the traffic manually.

The idea here is to build smart, automated reshapable roads (walking roads), which will be able to change here self-based on the traffic control output. We can use a kind of screens on the floor to show the arrow (may we change the direction. Therefore the arrow needs to be flexible) and we may also put an (X) on it, to mention that it’s closed. The ways also can change itself and reshape new directions for new paths; it can be at some point genius to guide the visitors by visual lights in the right directions. It could also give users indicator to the endpoint through digital screens, with estimate walk time. That will be helpful.

That will save a lot of time for the security guys, and it will give them more time to help & welcoming the visitors. Also, it helps in solving problems 1 and 2.

Disabilities Journey

As is: currently they are using the regular disability chairs, and there are many persons to support you if you are going to use it.

Suppose we build a gate, which contains automated Wheelchair (something similar to the Olympos Teleferik actually — but it will be implemented with another design — which contains many chairs you could set in the first possible one). so people with disabilities could reach the gate, can wait for the next one, ride it, and it will take him through all the rites based on the selected one.

Digital signage screens

We could also add a support screen or even voice support, and they can use it whenever they want to show the best prayers for these rites and any other support type.

It’s there already, but I don’t think that currently, we get the best of it. And to get the best out of it, first, we need more screens to be placed all over the place, gates, and roads. then we need to get a better management tool which gives us the ability to design much better interactive screens, with options such as timeline, calendar, and animations.

There was an old solution which we designed when I was working at wireless-marketer in Saudi Arabia; I think it will cover all possible needs and situations. You can check the case study for “Blue screen designer” from here.

There are many suggestions. We could use it to show a map for the visitors. We could use it for announcements & warnings, use it to show famous traffic statues and more.

On-Demand Guide Printing

When you want to do Umrah, you might miss a step, or even you may don’t do it the right way. For many reasons, it might be the lack of resources and the different opinions in any kind of practices, and there are many wrong ideas which are commonly shared between people each other.

For example, you may miss the count of rounds you did; it happens many times. Also, you may don’t know what the right thing to say in your prayers. And the best source of data will be the holy place management itself.

The idea is not only about delivering a printed guide with all what you can do such as Umrah, Prayers, and best practices or prayers you supposed to do or to say — and how you can do it the right way.

But also give the visitors an interactive printed guide. For example, we may have several scratchable circles printed on the paper, so you can scratch each one to count each round you already did.

On-Demand Digital Guide Box

For peoples with disabilities again, such a helpful way to guide through sound orders — or voice control. something like that will impact the entire journey, and it will leave unforgettable great feelings.

I believe peoples will always put the device back somewhere. Also, it could be secured in many ways. This device might be a customized version of an operating system such as Android, which only contains those effective options (same as a printed version) but with multi-modal interactions through voice control, automatic translations, maps and many more.

Automated Cleaning Robots

It’s a trend, it is there for a while right now, and I don’t think it will be that difficult even to build a customised version to fit the cleaning quality requirements in the holy mosque.

Many times I saw the above small version of cleaning robots, it’s tiny if we compare it to the one used in the holy mosque. But it’s promising since the one used on the Holy Mosque is almost automated, it just needs a direction or a driver and a pre-configured program that it will do On the relay. There are many engines already built, which might help if we use it as resources for such product.

Help Machines

Anytime, Anywhere. If you need help, you could easily talk to any help-machines (robots), through touch-screen and voice commands.

They will be able to show videos, photos, even maps through the screen; they will be able to show you your balance statues also. And they might guide you to achieve a particular place in Al-Haram.

Locker Robots

Robots, which will walk around the entire place in many different places, you will be able to stop them. Press on the start button, it will open a box, and you will leave whatever you want to save in the Safebox, it will go through materials secure check “fast one” then if it was accepted, it will print a return card for you, where you could find information such as when and where you get your things back.

The robots will collect as many things as possible. Then it will automatically place it on the right places “Appeared previously on the printed cards”.

Laser lights Signs

As is: There are lights on the sides, used currently as indicators for a start and the end of each round, but it’s not enough. The traffic might Obscure the vision.

So if we used some sort of leaser lights, comes from the top and reflect on the floor, that will also reflect in your body while you are moving and it would be a cleaner indicator for the end and start points.

Conclusion

Through this article, we showed some initial ideas and concepts which might lead to a much better experience in the great mosque. I’m not pretty sure about the effect of those ideas on behalf of solving experience problems and give a higher experience rate. But I’m pretty sure that it’s our duty as Muslims around the world to help even by writing articles and sharing new ideas and concepts. It’s not about who will make it real; it’s about making people think about its possibilities from the beginning.

We show through this article many ideas such as Security Gates, Smart Roads with Traffic Control Engine, Digital signage screens, On-Demand Guide Printing, OnDemand Digital Guide Box, Automated Cleaning Robots, Help Machines, Locker Robots, Laser lights Signs. Also, we expressed possible ways to improve the Disabilities Journey.

For now, that’s all.

Salamat 🙏✌️

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