Loaded with features like heart rate monitor, step count and sleep tracker, smartwatches are becoming a part of our daily life, but still most of them are basically useless for the visually impaired. Usually, visually impaired people, who can afford a smartphone, rely on voice technology, but that’s for those who aren’t braille educated. What if, instead of voice notifications, a smartphone could send notifications to a watch, which a visually impaired person could read in braille?
That is where Dot comes in.
The South Korean startup’s first product is the Dot Smartwatch, which it claims is the world’s first braille smartwatch. Dot is a sleek motorized smartwatch that uses braille to give the wearer not only the time, but a lot of other information.
The Dot Smartwatch lets the visually impaired receive real time information from their phone, such as notifications, text messages, Facebook messages and more, in braille, reports The News Minute.
“I have this braille smartwatch, which is a huge life changing technology for me. It behaves like a navigation, notification and a remote system.” says Erick Gallegos, Technology and Communication Trainer for Blind People.
The Dot works in a pretty simple manner. Underneath the dial are four motorized modules, each with 6 possible dots. Each dot can be raised or lowered individually, so the Dot can display up to four braille characters at a time. The user then just reads the dial as they would a piece of paper with braille on it. The dial is concave to offer a protective rim around the braille modules themselves, making it easier to wear the watch day in and day out.
“When there is a notification on the phone, the smartwatch vibrates, and the user can select and read the message in braille. This way, the visually impaired can be connected just like you and me. That’s the goal of the smartwatch,” says Jimin Ryu, Manager, global partnerships.
Dot is an active braille device. It is connected to the smartphone via Bluetooth, and can receive any text information from any app or service. For input, there’s a crown and two buttons. It comes with full watch functionality. It’s made from super-light aluminum and the battery lasts for 7 days.
There are approximately 285 million visually impaired people worldwide. But India has the largest number of visually impaired people (60 million). Dot was recently in India as part of Hyderabad-based startup engine T-Hub’s India Market Access program.
Jimin says that India is the largest market for Dot and that it wants to bring its products to help improve the literacy rates of the 60 million visually impaired in the country.
The braille smartwatch is priced at $300.