This smart watch translates texts into Braille for blind users

As more “smart” tech revolutionizes the way visually-abled people engage with the Internet and each other, it dawned on some researchers that there is an entire group of people being left out of the cutting edge of digital innovation: The visually-impaired, who are physically unable to process and thus engage with the world on screens. Sure, there are auditory translators for tech, but with Braille out of the picture, are there any other ways to transmit physically intangible messages to blind users? Enter some pretty genius minds who invented a way to translate digital messages into legible Braille.

A group of South Korean researchers have done just that, creating a smart watch that is able to translate texts into Braille messages. Dubbed “Dot,” it reads incoming texts and through ~*science*~, takes those words and translates them into Braille right on the watch face. Right now, the Dot’s limited by things like surface area (bigger words are still untranslatable), but with a starting price of $300, it’s a relatively affordable way for blind users to engage with what’s generally visual-only communication.

Dot CEO Eric Ju Yoon Kim explained the inspiration behind the smart watch to Tech in Asia: “Until now, if you got a message on iOS from your girlfriend, for example, you had to listen to Siri read it to you in that voice, which is impersonal. Wouldn’t you rather read it yourself and hear your girlfriend’s voice saying it in your head?” Beyond the personal connection, Kim also explains that the Dot also serves as a way of Braille education: “90 percent of blind people become blind after birth, and there’s nothing for them right now – they lose their access to information so suddenly. Dot can be their lifeline, so they can learn Braille and access everyday information through their fingers, which is the goal of Braille literacy.”

With Braille translators for computers running into the thousands of dollars, a solution in the hundreds isn’t just a cool tech innovation; it’s a life-changer, and will hopefully pave the way for more differently-abled tech adaptations. Check the Dot out in action below — because technology should belong to and serve everyone.

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