Smart devices have revolutionized the way many people do everything from keeping track of time to communicating and even getting from one place to another. But for those who are visually impaired, these devices that many of us now take for granted are not always fully adaptable. For example, most popular smartwatches aren’t exactly easy for people with severe vision problems to use. Watches with audio capabilities are able to tell hearing wearers the time—but what if the user wants to check the time privately, without making a sound? Now there’s a smartwatch that has been developed specifically for people who are visually impaired. It’s called The Dot Watch, and it has a touch display in which 24 dots rise and fall, spelling out words in braille. The watch can be linked to a smartphone via Bluetooth.
Finally, someone invented a braille smartwatch for the visually impaired.
Posted by Mashable on Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Because it doesn’t rely on text-to-audio technology, The Dot Watch allows users a measure of privacy not available in other devices. The Dot Watch is available to purchase for $359 and comes in two sizes: small and large. And it doesn’t just tell time, it can also relay information from social media, texting and GPS apps. Two buttons on the side allow the wearer to send messages of their own. Another major plus? It’s very stylish, with a minimal design that looks as good—if not better—than other wearable devices.
The South Korean company behind the watch hopes to expand its technology to other products that will be useful for those with visual impairments. “Our mission won’t stop with the Dot Watch, in fact, it would only pave the road to a bigger and better future,” Dot Incorporation’s website reads. “With the technology in our Dot Ecosystem, it will be possible to pursue an entire spectrum of education: from simple braille acquisition to advanced tactile-graphic representations.”
The Dot Watch will not be an accessible solution for all visually impaired people, as many visually impaired people no longer read braille. In 2009, fewer than 10 percent of the 1.3 million people who were legally blind in the United States were braille readers, according to the National Federation of the Blind. And only 10 percent of blind children are learning it, with NPR reporting that braille was being widely abandoned in the age of smartphones. Still, the company already had 140,000 preorders for the watch before it went on sale last year. Dot is also taking an active role in improving braille literacy rates in developing countries.