With stats suggesting there are an estimated 285 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted, we’re surprised that the world’s first braille smartwatch has just hit the market. Produced by South Korean start up Dot, it’s features do so much more than help the visually impaired simply tell time. The face has four cells with six balls in each, changing as the time does. The watch also connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth, receives texts from any phone or messenger service and allows users to send messages from the side buttons.
And while there have been digital devices on the market that do the same thing, previous options often use audio to communicate, meaning headphones or quiet spaces are needed to decipher messages. Sources suggest that only 5% of visually impaired people own digitally braille reading devices thus far, due to their bulky nature. Taking three years to develop, the watches have begun rolling out to 140,000 backers – Stevie Wonder among them.
And while the invention was birthed as a watch, it appears the technology will have many iterations. Dot just signed a 1 million dollar agreement with the Kenyan government to bring the Dot Mini, an educational reader, to the country and has plans in cooperation with Google to launch Dot Pad, an e-reader that will display shapes and images through tactile buttons to assist learning.