Dot Watch helps the vision impaired lead more independent, fulfilling lives by translating digital information into Braille. There are 285 million visually impaired people around the world, and Dot’s founders believe they’ve been left out of the real-time information age.
“Every time technology moves forward we see more real-time information, but for the blind, that’s a widening discrimination gap,” explains Eric Ju Yoon Kim, CEO of Dot Incorporation.
“Ninety per cent of people become blind after birth, and there’s nothing for them right now – they lose their access to information so suddenly,” he says.
Dot’s most striking feature is its sleek, contemporary design. Most Braille devices are ugly, clunky, and cost thousands of dollars, whereas the Dot Watch retails for around US$300 and acknowledges that blind people have the right to stylish design, too.
The watch connects to your smartphone using Bluetooth, and works using 24 touch sensors, which are controlled magnetically. Tiny dots form different Braille symbols, and can interpret any text from any app. It’s also an open system, which means anyone can write apps for it.
Despite having a brilliant idea, Dot’s founders – Eric Ju Yoon Kim and Titus Cheng – weren’t entirely sure how to promote and market their product until they were introduced to advertising executives at Serviceplan Korea. The agency has since helped them devise a PR and communications strategy and promote Dot at a global scale, leading to 60,000 pre-orders.
Since launching Dot Watch in Korea in March 2018, the company has begun working on Dot Pad, an active Braille tablet, and Dot Mini, a more affordable device designed to help people learn Braille in countries where Dot Watch’s price tag is out of reach.
Aside from the ingenuity of the technology, Dot demonstrates great respect for the sight impaired through its beautiful industrial design. Designed in collaboration with Cloudandco, the product is especially disruptive because it turns digital data into a physical analogue experience – whereas most tech firms are making analogue experiences more digital.