The South Korean startup Dot has spent the past three years developing a smartwatch that promotes inclusivity and accessibility for the visually impaired.
Dot allows people who can read Braille to use social media, texting, and GPS apps, and send simple replies using buttons on the side of the watch. Furthermore, the Dot team has an open API so developers can create other apps and continue to improve the ones available for Dot users.
Eric Kim, founder and CEO of Dot, had the idea while attending the University of Washington. He noticed that he had a blind classmate that carried around bulky textbooks instead of using a tablet like the rest of his classmates.
"Although there are impairment-friendly features on the tablet, the accessibility was deemed a huge issue," it says on Dot’s website. "Existing adaptive/assistive technology devices were often overly expensive and there had been no major innovation in the field, especially regarding Braille." Kim was inspired to create and develop Dot as a result.
The sleek smartwatch connects to phones or tablets via Bluetooth and displays text in Braille, rather than in text or images, on the watch face.
"To achieve this, a state-of-the-art, refreshable Braille Display is used. It utilizes cutting-edge, electro-dynamic cells to seamlessly relay information. In such an active era, our device aims to fuel the ones deemed ‘limited’ or ‘immobile’," according to Dot’s website. "It’s incredibly easy to operate and beautifully crafted. Our innovation allows us to reduce the size and price of our products in a massive scale, as well. Instead of traditional Braille machines, our technology focuses on our seamlessness and portability."
The watch costs $300 and is currently available in English and Korean. The Dot Team hopes to develop a watch with Spanish, Arabic, French, German, and Italian capabilities in the near future. It will be released in the United Kingdom this month and in the United States and Korea in April, but is available for pre-order now.