A revolutionary technology may allow blind people to read their smartphones—simply by checking their watch.
Food, shelter, smartphone. Those items appear to top most Americans’ list of basic needs, whatever the material value of Candy Crush is. But for many people who struggle with blindness, smartphones simply weren’t an option until recently, when a group South Korean engineers stepped in. Now, a new “smartwatch” (in development) promises to instantly turn texts and other forms of data into braille, allowing blind people to see their phone.
The technology is brilliant. The watch (known as “The Dot”) first collects data from the smartphone, then translates it into braille with a series of magnets and pins. Currently, computers use braille technology, but The Dot promises to be the first device to adapt it to phones. The engineers hope to market it for less than $300 in the United States—a strangely affordable-ish price. However, some critics have pointed out that the watch may not be able to translate much-needed larger words, proving that the technology still has some distance to go.
Prior to the “Dot,” many blind people had to rely on Siri to use their phones. And as soothing as Siri’s voice is, she isn’t always the most reliable source of information. There’s so much technology out there that doesn’t help anyone (see: 90 percent of the internet), so it’s good to see simple science make an actual difference.