Braille Phone Launches
22 May 2014 at 11:26 am
A UK telecommunications company, OwnFone, has launched what it says is the world’s first commercially available Braille mobile phone and it’s working to bring it to Australia and New Zealand later in the year.
Tom Sunderland, the founder of OwnFone, said that over the years there had been many braille phone concept designs but so far none had made it to market.
“In the past the cost of developing a braille phone vs. the market size has been a barrier to entry. 3D printing provides a fast and affordable way to overcome this barrier,” Sunderland said.
The Braille Phone delivers pre-programed numbers decided by the purchaser, entered into the computer, and then custom printed onto the mobile handset.
OwnFone was launched in the UK in 2012 with the aim of creating simple mobile solutions for consumers using patented technology using a blank mobile device that can be customised for a range of sectors and purposes.
|The Braille Phone delivers pre-programed numbers decided by the purchaser, entered into the computer, and then custom 3D printed onto the mobile handset.|
Brad Scoble is the Director of OwnFone Australia & New Zealand and he estimates that the two markets initially could see about 15,000 blind mobile phone users.
“We are in the process of replacing the existing printing process with new 3D printing that can turn the handset text into braille,” Scoble said.
He said this was a very expensive process and the company was aiming to meet a market need initially when it brings it to Australia.
He said in Australia apart from the pre-programed numbers that a braille reader might want it was mandatory for Australian handsets to have the ability to dial triple-0.
“We will probably use the braille for ‘emergency’ to denote the 000 number,” he said.
The Braille handsets in Australia are expected to range from $69-$80 with a number of low-cost pre and post paid mobile phone plans.
In Australia the OwnFone already provides customised mobile phone handsets for children and seniors.
The President of advocacy group, People With Disability, Craig Wallace said he was impressed and excited by the news of a braille mobile phone.
“Generally touch technology has been both problematic and liberating for blind people but this concept seems to be a neat solution in terms of mobile phone use,” he said.