A startup run by students and entrepreneurs from the United States and South Korea has developed a smartwatch for the blind, and it’s pretty nifty. The smartwatch, called Dot, can display four braille characters at a time. Each character space has six active pins that rise and fall to produce the combinations of the braille alphabet and numerical system. The concept has been around for a few months, but the company recently revamped the watch’s design and functionality. It’s a little thick, but it looks pretty great!
The watch connects vie Bluetooth to a smartphone, just like any other smartwatch, and uses a unique actuator powered by magnets to raise and lower the pins. It can display incoming texts, notifications, tweets, the time, and even entire e-books four characters at a time. When the user receives a text, Dot will vibrate and display the text before reverting back to the time. Previously, blind people have largely relied on vocal systems such as Siri to read texts out loud.
Users can adjust the speed at which the watch displays new characters, and those who are looking to learn braille can use a phone app that pronounces a letter as it pops up on the watch. The National Federation of the Blind estimates that 90% of blind children are not taught to read braille, and therefore not taught to read at all.
You can pre-order Dot for $300, significantly less than existing braille machines that can cost thousands of dollars. Technology like Dot and Blitab, a tablet that displays braille, can help make braille-learning programs much more accessible.
Dot is scheduled for launch in the United States and Canada sometime in 2016.
To read the rest of this article, published in Popular Mechanics, please click here.