Technology is so advanced these days and new inventions are being created every single day. Many being designed to help others. With well over a quarter of a million people in the UK registered as blind or partially sighted, the launch of the world’s first Braille smartwatch this month is sure to be revolutionary, both in this country and the world over.
Enabling blind and partially sighted people to feel the time, the first Braille watch has been developed by Dot, a start-up based in South Korea. The team at Dot has spent three years developing the watch and while the road to completion hasn’t always been that easy, the watch is finally set to go on sale this March.
They encountered problems with a flimsy watch face and the small bumps which move to tell the time were easily damaged but these problems have now been rectified ready for launch. Previously smartwatches for the visually impaired have had to rely on audio prompts to help the user to tell the time but this brand new minimalist design which allows them to feel the time could prove revolutionary.
The smartwatch itself has a battery life of seven days and displays four Braille characters in real-time on the face. As the time changes, the dots move to create the new time, enabling the visually impaired to tell the correct time at all times.
Conceiving the idea at the University of Washington when he was based as a student there, CEO Eric Kim knew there was a gap in the market for a product such as this after seeing visually impaired students struggling with heavy Braille books whilst other students were taking advantage of new technology such as smartphones and tablets. Dot claim to already have thousands of customers lined up to buy a watch- including music legend Stevie Wonder! They will retail at the equivalent of around £323 and the company plans to ship their first 100,000 before the end of 2017.
Like most smartwatches on the market, the Dot watch can connect to user’s smartphones via Bluetooth and receive information from various apps, such as Google Maps or Whatsapp. Users can even reply to texts and perform other simple actions on the device just by using two buttons on the side of the watch face. With most other smart devices catering to the non visually impaired, it is great to see the devices for the visually impaired still sharing some of the same features alongside the Braille interface.
With the launch of such a great device, this really paves the way for more Braille smart devices to be designed and Dot is well on their way to providing the visually impaired with more products for them – a Dot Pad (similar to a Kindle) is planned to be released circa 2018 and Dot are even considering creating an educational braille reader called the Dot Mini which they would retail for around £160.