New Wearable Lets the Blind Read Smartphone Data in Braille

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A new wearable called the “Dot” is a device that straps around the wrist like a watch and uses magnets and a grid of pins to create four braille characters at a time that change at adjustable speeds, allowing blind people to read text messages and use apps on any device via Bluetooth. Eric Ju Yoon Kim, the co-founder and CEO of South Korean based startup, believes his company’s innovation will free blind people to interact with their devices on their own terms (via Time).

Until now, if you got a message on iOS from your girlfriend, for example, you had to listen to Siri read it to you in that voice, which is impersonal,” he said. “Wouldn’t you rather read it yourself and hear your girlfriend’s voice saying it in your head?”

That kind of technology is not groundbreaking, but transferring it to a mobile device certainly is — just like the price: computers using so-called “active Braille technology” can cost $3,000, while Kim says that when the watch arrives in the U.S. this December it will sell for less than $300.

Kim said that 90% of blind people become blind after birth, and there’s nothing for them right now. “Dot can be their lifeline, so they can learn Braille and access everyday information through their fingers”, he added. Kim explained that the device is based on haptic technology, which provides feedback or information in real time through touch. By linking to any Bluetooth device, the Dot smartwatch can pull text from applications like iMessage using voice commands.

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The Dot will hit the shelves by the end of this year.