The visually impaired can now tell time with the world’s first Braille smartwatch

Did you know that there are over 285 million visually impaired people in the world? This month, some of these lives are about to get better. South Korean developer Dot has produced the world’s first Braille smartwatch. And its features are just what you’d expect from a smart device.

The Braille smartwatch is coming to the market after nearly three years of repeated stops and starts. Unlike most assistive smartwatches for the visually impaired which rely on audio prompts, Dot displays information using 4 active dynamic Braille cells. And just like any smartwatch, the Dot connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth and can also receive any text from any app or service.

Its users can select the speed at which the characters update and can also send simple messages using its buttons on the side. The Dot also supports Open API, which means that anyone can develop or adapt apps for it. Existing digital Braille reading devices are mostly bulky and expensive; with only 5% of visually impaired people owning one.

This month the company will finally start delivering its devices to some 140,000 backers; including Stevie Wonder. They plan to ship 100,000 watches in 2017, and the other 40,000 next year.

Eric Juyoon Kim, founder and CEO of Dot, said the Braille smartwatch is just the first step in offering devices to the blind; especially those in developing markets, where the vast majority of visually-impaired reside. They’ve also signed a $1 million agreement with Kenya’s government to bring 8,000 units of its upcoming Dot Mini to be sold below cost. To learn more about Dot, click here.