The makers of a braille smartwatch for blind people have confirmed it will ship next month. It follows a lengthy development process and redesigns.
The Dot smartwatch works with four sets of six balls that can be magnetically raised or lowered, which allows it to “display” four characters at a time in braille. As with a standard watch, that will normally be a time, used for watch, timer, stopwatch and alarm.
However, it also has an internet connection and can display messages. The operating system is being made open to allow app development for tools such as navigation (using a built-in accelerometer) and information look-ups.
When reading text, users can choose between automatic refreshes (or ‘scrolling’ text) or tapping to go backwards or forwards to the next set of characters. Testing with braille users suggests its possible to read comfortable at a speed of around 30 words a minute.
If the idea catches on, the next step will be the Dot Pad, a device similar in size to a Kindle, with a much wider array of dots to display shapes and even crude images as well as braille text.