Dot: a smartwatch for the blind
Traditional smartwatches developed for the masses were designed to display messages in a visual manner. The truth, though, is that this makes them inviable for the thousands of potential users who would be interested but have some kind of visual deficiency. For them, this kind of watch is simply not an option, which is exactly what Dot, a South Korean smartwatch, is attempting to fix. The Dot smartwatch (both company and product share the name) has the ability to display messages in braille, configure alarms and show directions. These are very basic features for any smartwatch, but its the first of its kind aimed for the visually impaired, and the first one to attempt a dynamic braille interface.
This braille interface was developed in 4 sets of six dots using said alphabet, which go up and down so the user can “read” which dots are up and which aren’t. This display can be regulated according to the users’ proficency, and can show up to 100 “letters” per second, which is insanely fast. The point is, users can regulate this to match their skill level, which is a very welcome feature. On the other hand, this watch has a battery that lasts some 10 hours at full use, which for the average user means a full charge every 5 days or so, according to its creators. It also has a vibration function to notify the user of messages or alarms, and can connect to any smartphone via bluetooth. Creator Eric Ju Yoon Kim, who is also the CEO and co-founder at Dot, expressed that the idea behind this device was to create a “wearable” that was more intimate when it comes to how visually impaired users interact with it. He said “up until this point, if you got a message from someone on iOS, say, from your girlfriend, you have to hear Siri’s impersonal voice to read it to you.Wouldn’t you rather read it yourself and hear the voice of your loved one in your imagination?”.
Kim says that he’d also like to see Dot’s technology used in other devices such as ATMs, microwaves, or any other device that requires showing users information in order to operate them. The company behind Dot is only focusing on this smartwatch at the moment, and are trying to raise funds to make it go on sale around the world for less than $300 USD.
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