New Braille smartwatch lets blind read texts, e-books

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Washington, Aug 10: A South Korean startup has developed an affordable Braille smartwatch which allows the visually impaired to receive and read text messages in real time and even read e-books. The wearable, named Dot, relays the time with a set of pins that rise and fall.

Users will be able to receive and read text messages in real time, read e-books and even learn Braille. When it comes to watches for the visually impaired, there are not many devices that use real-time Braille text – and the ones that do typically cost thousands of dollars.

smartwatch

Dot, its creators claim, is the first affordable smartwatch for the visually challenged that uses haptic technology. Twenty four active pins on its surface, spread across four cells, allow it to display four Braille characters at a time.

The smartwatch lets users read information in real-time by linking to any of their Bluetooth-enabled devices. For instance, when a user receives a text message on their mobile phone, an app translates it into Braille and sends it to the smartwatch via Bluetooth, 'Gizmag' reported.

Dot's internal vibrator motor alerts the user to the message or notification and the display automatically shifts from telling time to displaying the notification. Pins corresponding to the pattern protrude from Dot's surface, allowing users to read the information with their fingertips.

Their reading speed is customisable. "You can adjust the speed of the Braille output through the dials on the side of the watch," said Daniel Koh, Head of Media Relations at Fingerson. "With four cells, there's a limit to the number of words being displayed at a time.

However, unlike modern refreshable braille displays, which read one line at a time, the 'active braille display' is utilised to make braille automatically pass by in the user's hand as if it were an escalator," Koh said.

Since reading long paragraphs on a four-cell Braille device might get tedious, the company plans to create a Braille Pad next that is more suited to reading e-books. The company plans to launch the device in the US initially for a price below USD 300.

PTI

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