The world’s first braille smartwatch is on its way to buyers
The watch itself boasts a smooth, futuristic white face, displaying four cells of six tiny moving components (the smart device’s answer to braille bumps). Its clean lines and pared-down design appear to have taken inspiration from Apple’s mantra of minimalism. However, the watch encountered problems with its face. The watch, ironically, didn’t stand the test of time, at least when it came to robustness: the moving bumps that the braille comprised didn’t last particularly long when perpetually prodded.
But the kinks have now been ironed out, with Dot confirming that the watch will be commercially available from March onwards. Sporting a battery that lasts up to seven days, the smartwatch will retail at $290 (£230). Dot’s founder and CEO Eric Ju Yoon Kim anticipates that 100,000 of the watches will be available this year, heralding with the release a new age of inclusivity. Prospective buyers, he said, had reached 140,000, and included celebrity endorsement from Stevie Wonder.
Smartwatches for the blind or visually impaired have previously relied on audio prompts, which can be disruptive, whereas Dot’s braille watch stands out from the crowd by displaying four braille characters at a time on the screen. Users can use the two accessible side buttons to send simple commands, replies and actions.
Kim plans to expand his range of braille-dependent devices from the Dot smartwatch to the Dot Mini, an educational braille reader, which would purportedly retail at $200 or less. Another project in the pipeline might be brought to fruition in partnership with Google, namely an e-reader called the Dot Pad – a work in progress for now, but one that we could see as early as 2018.
Mashable anticipates that the smart braille system could – and should – one day be adopted by governments for public use. For now, Dot’s smartwatch is a welcome addition to a rapidly expanding roster of products helping the visually impaired.