Technology

The First Smart Watch For Blind People Gets Braille Texts

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In this world of smart gadgets, you can get a message on your cellphone, your laptop, your tablet, or even your watch. Instead of hopping on a call or seeking out a news story, everything conveniently comes to you. But, what about consumers who are visually impaired? A South Korean company called Dot has reinvented tactile communication with the world's very first Braille smart watch.

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It's About Time

Like other wearable devices, their new smart watch includes typical functions like showing time (down to the seconds), getting directions, and displaying social media and text message notifications. But here's the really cool part: it uses a refreshable Braille display—hence the name, Dot Watch.

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To tell time, you simply feel the dots on the display. If there's one dot followed by two dots, then it's 12 o'clock. Easy peasy. How do you read messages? According to Big Think, the display is made of "24 touch sensors and utilizes electro-dynamic cells to relay information." Magnets and a grid of pins create four Braille characters at a time. When your Dot Watch senses that you've finished reading a text (i.e. when your finger reaches the end of a Braille line), the screen instantly refreshes. As TIME notes, the watch can use apps on any device via Bluetooth.

At Your Fingertips

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Dot Inc. has received 140,000 pre-orders from 13 different countries, and Big Think estimates that English and Korean versions (priced at around $200 USD) will start shipping out April 2017. In addition to their Dot Watch, Dot Inc. hopes to improve Braille literacy in developing countries by introducing a low cost version of the device called Dot Mini. The company hopes to be a lifeline for the 285 million visually impaired people who want to access information at their fingertips—just like everyone else.

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Dot: The First Braille Smart Watch

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