Reaching the unreachable
The idea took off when Eric Kim, founder and CEO, came across a blind classmate hauling large, bulky books during his studies at the University of Washington. He realized that, while most students were using tablet devices in class, this particular student wasn’t able to take advantage of the new technologies widely available.
The reality is that inclusive information access is limited by cost barriers and lack of innovations. While many products are designed exclusively for the majority, our visually impaired communities can’t benefit from much of its advances.
Dot shifted the focus from the expensive legacy devices in order to implement our technology to wearables. The Dot Watch accentuates mobility: users can learn various braille formats on the fly.
What exactly is the Dot Watch?
The smart Braille watch, Dot is a stylish, wearable device that outputs text in Braille (and its many versions) on the watch-face. It is completely practical and easy-to-use. One prominent difference between an existing smart watch and ‘Dot’ is within the usage scope: accessing information in Braille rather than in text or graphics. To achieve this, a state-of-the-art, refreshable Braille Display is used. It utilizes cutting-edge, electro-dynamic cells to seamlessly relay information. In such an active era, our device aims to fuel the ones deemed ‘limited’ or ‘immobile’.
How much does it cost?
As many are curious about the price first and foremost, it will be around 290 dollars before tax. The goal is to keep the price as close to each other no matter the currency and purchasing platforms.
How is it different from other adaptive/assistive devices?
The Dot team has developed a whole new technology, instead of building onto the existing Piezo method. It’s incredibly easy to operate and beautifully crafted. The innovation allows the size to be reduced and as well as the price of the products in a massive scale. Instead of traditional Braille machines, the technology focuses on being seamless and portable.
How would it work with just 4 pins?
The device may have only 4 pins, but by using touch sensors, once you read the last letter and have your finger off the display, the pins will be refreshed for the new letters, it’s seamless. The user would read across the surface of a 43 mm radius circle. The point is not to read a whole book, much like sighted users who won’t read a novel on a smartwatch — it’s to be mobile and connected.
What functions does it have?
Much like some flagship smartwatch devices with large followings, it would be able to display text messages, social media notifications, and other customizable information in Braille. For this, we will have a Dot mobile application where you can pair certain applications with the device. The possibilities are endless.
As it is still a watch at the core, it will naturally display the time, being the first Braille watch ever to display down to the seconds.
What languages does it support?
For now, the relevant software development is in English and Korean. Further localization is necessary for an impactful development for future language additions. Current priorities are Spanish, Arabic, French, German, and Italian, for the near future.
The Dot Team
This may be a small and humble startup, but the team is phenomenal. The members possess the knowledge, experience and skills required in their respective fields. The experienced seniors helm the Hardware, Software and Marketing areas, while the juniors bring the strength, creativity, and the courage to function together at optimal efficiency. Thet all learn from one another and continue to grow as an amazing team that strives for excellence.
Based on 31 patents, the innovation will bring forth a new wave to the assistive-device market. Also, as the company is a global startup, they’ve been tirelessly partnering with other specialized entities, such as KAIST and Google, to name a few. Dot Team will aim to expand the existing market and aspire to be the de-facto leader of the $5 billion (USD) market. Until now, the company has received over $5 million (USD) for mass production.