The Dot Braille Smartwatch has started shipping
Back in 2014, Korean start-up Dot showcased their vision for the future of smartwatches for people who are visually impaired. The Dot Smartwatch had a rectangular face with tiny moving components that replicated braille bumps. The Dot smartwatch had serious quality-control issues, however, because the braille bumps would break from prolonged use and as such, Dot went back to the drawing board to refine their product.
Three years later, Dot are back with an all-new Dot Smartwatch that we’re told is far more reliable than the first version. The new Dot smartwatch even has a new design, ditching the rectangular look for a circular number that’s much sleeker and cleaner.
The Dot Smartwatch connects to a smartphone through Bluetooth, and then displays push notifications and messages four braille characters at a time on the watch face. The watch face has four cells of six balls that render themselves very quickly, to allow for swift reading. In terms of design, the Dot Smartwatch is on the chunky side but it’s important to remember that it houses a mechanical assembly for the braille balls. There’s two buttons on the side of the case too to ensure that cycling through messages is easy.
Retailing for $290.00 USD, around 100,000 Dot Smartwatches will be made available this year, and CEO Eris Ju Yoon Kim has said that prospective buyers have reached the 140,000 mark, and include a celebrity endorsement from Stevie Wonder. This follows the announcement that Dot will launch the Dot Pad - a braille e-reader - in 2018 in collaboration with Google, which will likely be sold within educational environments to help with learning.
Overall, the Dot Smartwatch is a unique device that for the first time offers a true smartwatch alternative to audio-based messaging for the visually impaired. We’re also big fans of the design and the price, which we think is just right.