One area of technology advancements I have not discussed yet is that intended to make disabled persons’ lives easier. I figured we could take a look at some different technologies in the next few weeks. I recently came across an innovative watch technology for blind people: Dot Watch as manufactured by Dot Incorporation. See the link to see it for yourself.
Blind people have challenges in many aspects of their lives that those with legal vision often take for granted. One of those challenges is their smartphones. A typical smartphone has a flat screen with zero physically distinguishable features, apart from side buttons or possibly a home button. However, to answer a phone call or read a text message, the user needs to visually see the screen to interact. But what would a blind person do in this situation? One answer could be using text-to-speech conversion, but unless you use earphones, it would not be private in the company of others. Furthermore, using audio could be problematic for people who rely on sound when navigating their spatial world. But the Dot Watch offers a different solution.
The watch uses Braille to allow the user to read messages and notifications by touch. The watch face consists of four Braille cells for reading, two touch sensors for scrolling, and three side buttons for menu navigation. It may not seem like much, but this could make a huge difference to a blind person. Incoming calls would display the name of the caller so the user could “see” who is calling them before they answer. They could read text messages word by word as well. The watch is paired to the smartphone with Bluetooth and has a Braille dictionary feature where the user can send a word to the watch to display in Braille. This way they don’t have to memorize every word in public, and if they are searching for something, they can quickly check.
The watch is not perfect since reading might be slower than speech from text would be, but it is a wonderful creation and alternative for people to consider. It really shows that when we think critically about different people’s challenges and what could help improve their lives, we can innovate some amazing technology. Who knows what might develop from this technology in the years to come. We’ll just have to wait and read.