There’s a new smartwatch called Dot hitting the shelves that’s designed specifically for people who are blind. It’s a sleek-looking device that represents a different direction for assistive smartwatches. Many of these timepieces have previously relied on audio prompts, but instead, the Dot displays braille text. The circular face can exhibit four characters on the screen at a time—this makes the braille watch the first of its kind.
The way it works sounds simple, but it took nearly three years to develop Dot. It’s easy to see why as the face displays four cells of six balls each, and the company had to figure out how to protect the tiny elements while making sure they remained tactile. In addition to reading the screen, users can also send simple replies through the watch’s side buttons.
The Dot braille watch is the brainchild of founder and CEO, Eric Kim. He had the idea when he noticed that a blind classmate was carrying large, bulky books to class while most students were using tablets. After learning that these were braille textbooks, he was “shocked” to realize that this student couldn’t take advantage of new technology. “The reality is that inclusive information access is limited by cost barriers and lack of innovations,” Dot writes. “While many products are designed exclusively for the majority, our visually impaired communities can’t benefit from much of its advances.”
Starting in March 2017, the company will begin to deliver its watch to 140,000 product backers. This will take until the next year to complete. For those who didn’t preorder, however, there is a smaller batch of 1,000 watches that will be available in London shops for a price tag of $320.