The world’s first braille mobile phone, the OwnFone, has been officially launched in the United Kingdom. Considering how far we’ve come in terms of technology, you would assume that such a device targeted at the visually impaired would already be on the market, but it seems that was not the case until now.
OwnFone, a company that specializes in such niche products has re-purposed some of its phones targeted at the elderly to feature a braille keypad. The phone has only four main buttons which can be assigned for up to four favorite contacts, making calling close friends and relatives painless. This can also help users during emergencies, because there is no need to actually dial the whole number.
It’s interesting that every OwnFone is 3D printed, meaning that the plastic used to make it can be rather low quality, but this also helps keep the price down. Thanks to 3D printing, each phone is unique, with names of contacts written on the four big buttons on the front. The starting price for the device is £60, so it’s a rather inexpensive terminal. This means that it can easily be replaced if the user loses it. The contracts available for OwnFone have prices set between 7.50 and £15.00 per month. The difference between them is the call time included in the subscription.
It’s nice to see affordable technology aimed at people with disabilities. Lately, with the rise of 3D printing, there have been all kinds of new developments in this area, and this mobile phone is just a little sample. Prosthetic limbs have been created with the use of printed plastic, and we’re just scratching the surface. Once printers become more affordable and more people get to put their hands on them, we may see a real revolution in this area.