Smartphones and other touch-screen devices are not useful to the blind because they’re unable to see the shifting pixels on the smooth device. Not only has it hindered the technological literacy for these people, it has also weakened their reading literacy, isolating them from most of the information that aren’t written in print. A couple of tech companies have found a way to overcome the problem, like creating braille e-readers or making Siri read texts, but they’re often costly and clunky.
But then technology always finds a way. The impossible happened—the Dot was created, the first braille smartwatch complete with shifting cells of dots. A South Korean startup company made it, and it may just be the ultimate solution. This affordable gadget could aid the blind to catch up to the era of smartwatches. The sales of this new tech have boosted up to 475 percent during the last year—thanks to Apple Watch. The smartwatch can also be utilized as a tool for education.
“Until now, if you got a message on iOS from your girlfriend, for example, you had to listen to Siri read it to you in that voice, which is impersonal, wouldn’t you rather read it yourself and hear your girlfriend’s voice saying it in your head?” Dot CEO Eric Ju Yoon Kim told Tech in Asia.
Alphr notes that the Dot wearable looks like a mix between a Pebble Time and a Fitbit. Face up, it contains four cells, each having six active dots that can be lowered and raised to produce four braille letters at a time. It connects with Bluetooth to convert text from apps like iMessage into their braille letter counterparts, following the user’s voice commands. The device has a life span of up to five days without needing to charge.
One of the defining features of the Dot wearable is its price. In December, once it reaches the United States, the device will be priced at less than $300, a price much lower than the braille e-readers, which are sold for thousands of dollars.
But Dot doesn’t just stop at the wrist; they plan to go beyond it. The creators ran a braille screen modules test at train stations and ATMs, programming them to display information that changes regularly, like train schedules or account balances. The startup will then shift toward the public sector, which they see as their largest market, right after the wearable’s launch this coming December.