If you know a person who is visually impaired, this is probably the best gift you can get him or her if you are living in the UK. OwnFone, a British company that rose to fame with its brilliant concept of launching the "world's first personalised mobile phone", has now more reasons to boast off. It has launched a brand new Braille Phone that features a 3D printed keypad with 2 or 4 braille buttons that are pre-programmed to call important people in case of emergency. Even those who can’t read Braille can use this phone as it can have a printed texture and raised text. How cool is that? Priced at £60, OwnFone Braille Phone has now gone on sale in the United Kingdom.
Tom Sunderland, the founder of OwnFone has taken the 3D printing technology to another level by bringing the option of letting buyers customize their own cellphones to suit to their needs and then 3D print them. He shares that 3D printing is the cheapest method for creating 1000s of phones in different shapes, sizes and features. The company launched their first customizable handset called the "1stFone" and later introduced a phone especially for children aged 9-12.
If you are interested in buying a Braille phone, you can go on to the OwnFone website and customize the device by choosing which names and numbers you want to get programmed onto the main screen of the phone. The OwnFone's efficient system online will promptly convert your English text into Braille. Users of the website can also add colors or images for an additional amount of £5. Once you are satisfied with your design, OwnFone will print the phone’s front and back as well as the raised braille using their stereolithography based 3D printing technology. Take a look at how the OwnFone phones are printed in their labs here -
If you are living in India or any country other than UK, you can wait for a while because Mr. Sunderland has promised that they've planned for a Kickstarter campaign and by raising money through it they will make the phones available internationally. Another thing that might catch your attention is the arrival of several apps for the visually impaired people these days. We covered an app called BrailleTouch some time back, that can enable eye-free typing for all kinds of users.
There are some startups around the world trying to explore the possibility of a Braille featuring smartphone. In India, Kriyate - a tech startup being mentored by IIM-Ahmedabad's Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) developed a prototype Braille-enabled smartphone that had a repressible Braille display and feedback controls that beep or vibrate after receiving certain commands. So, there are some significant results coming up in this sector
Some might argue that voice-commands are a better technology to be embedded in the smartphones when it comes to the market of visually impaired people. But we strongly believe that OwnFone's Braille phone is a great application of the 3D printing tech. What are your thoughts on the same? Share with us in comments below.
Source: My OwnFone