The iPhone has accessibility features that make it an effective tool for the visually impaired. Siri can read incoming messages aloud, and other features make operating the touch screen possible for the blind. But a Braille device opens up a world of books, news, and text messages in a more natural way.
That's why the Dot, a Braille smartwatch coming in December, is so exciting. It uses innovative technology that forms "bubbles" on the "display" to write text for the blind. There are existing Braille readers, but these tend to cost $2,000 or more. The Dot is expected to retail for less than $300.
According to Popular Science, the Dot can write text at variable speeds to suit the owner. Looking like a cross between a fitness band and a small smartwatch, the Dot writes the text in Braille using four cells with six active bubbles each that appear and disappear as appropriate. Given that the device is worn on the wrist like a watch, it is always at hand.
The Dot will provide alerts for incoming messages with vibrations. Because it can be read by touch, this eliminates the need to have a phone or watch read the message aloud. Using Braille keeps the messaging private, as opposed to the verbal method. Those experienced with Braille can do so much quicker than listening to the spoken word.
Dot will link up to a smartphone over Bluetooth like other smartwatches. It will serve similar functions to those, like receiving incoming messages over iMessages on an iPhone.
The company, Dot, is testing this fluid Braille technology on other devices, such as ATM machines and public transport terminals. It intends to address these markets once the Dot watch is released.