Smartphones are a relief to many of its users, but when you’re blind they can however be very difficult to use. London-based company OwnFone wants to end this problem for visually impaired people for once and ever and therefore releases what it calls the world’s first-ever braille phone. The company used 3D printing techniques to create its front and back.
It has the shape of a phone, but that might only be one of the few comparisons to regular smartphones. As you can see in the upper picture, this phone only has a couple of buttons per side, which are suited with braille codes. We welcome you to to what is presented as the world’s first braille phone. Despite it’s not the first-ever phone to use braille – New Delhi-based company Kriyate has already earlier created a braille prototype, OwnFone thinks thinks they are the first ones to use braille in a form that can be successful on a world-wide scale. They’ve said this phone is the first braille phone to go on sale.
It works as follows: if a customer would like to buy a braille phone, then the user can specify a design for the phone online. They can choose their favorite color, and add pictures. Contact numbers will then be printed into the design of the phone. Aside from braille designs, customers can also go for a design using normal letters. This can be useful for – not visually impaired – children or for the elderly, groups that might have problems with the complex systems of today’s smartphones.
Tom Sunderland, the company’s founder, told BBC: “The phone can be personalised with two or four Braille buttons which are pre-programmed to call friends, family, carers or the emergency services. This is the first phone to have a 3D printed keypad and for people that can’t read Braille, we can print texture and raised text on the phone. Our 3D phone printing process is patent pending.” The company used 3D printing techniques to cut costs, as braille phones are a relatively small market. Traditional manufacturing methods would be too expensive, while the braille phone today can be sold for just 60 pounds.
Currently, the phones are only for sale in Britain, but the company is planning to launch a campaign on Kickstarter in order to start its worldwide sale of braille phones.
Credits images: OwnFone.