It’s not something most of us think about on a daily basis, but most watches are basically useless for the visually impaired. Traditionally, the solution to this was to make watches with crystals that could flip up, allowing the wearer to feel the hands. These tended to be poorly made and touching the hands is a really good way to throw a watch off over time. But there are more creative solutions out there. Meet the Dot, a sleek motorized smartwatch that uses braille to give the wearer the time.
Developed in Korea, the Dot is a new product that offers a new take on telling the time and giving notifications to the visually impaired. Notably, because it uses braille and not just indicators to mimic hands, the Dot can offer true rich notifications, not just numbers for the time. The case is made of aluminum to keep weight down (just 27 grams) and it measures in at 43mm across and 12.5mm thick. So sure, it’s a big watch, but it’s still very much in the realm of wearable. It comes with one of three different sized leather straps that works sort of like a half-NATO, wrapping through on one side. It has a rechargeable battery, a touch sensor, a vibration motor, and Bluetooth, so it’s pretty standard in terms of smartwatch features.
The Dot works in a pretty straightforward manner. Underneath the dial are four motorized modules, each with six possible dots. Each dot can be raised or lowered individually, so the Dot can display up to four braille characters at a time. The wearer then just reads the dial as he or she would a piece of paper with braille on it. The dial is concave to offer a protective rim around the braille modules themselves, making it easier to wear the watch day in and day out.
Source (Stephen Pulvirent, “Introducing The Dot Braille Smartwatch For The Visually Impaired”, Hodinkee, 03.03.2017)