Since Apple’s Steve Jobs launched the iPhone 10 years ago, smartphones have changed people’s lives drastically. For many, it is now hard to imagine living without a device that, as well as making calls, allows you to connect with friends online, search for news, check the weather and watch movies.
However, at least one group of people has been unable to fully participate in the smartphone revolution — the visually-impaired. Eric Kim, chief executive of South Korean startup Dot, recognized this imbalance. In South Korea, 253,000 people were registered as visually-impaired in 2015, according to data from Statistics Korea. And with some 285 million visually-impaired people registered around the world, Kim realized there was a market to bring a more appropriate device to them.
Now, after two years of ups and downs, the company is making final preparations to release the result of Kim’s quest — the first braille smartwatch. The Dot Watch, which will be priced at $290 before tax when it goes on sale in the next few months, has drawn more than 150,000 pre-orders from 15 countries, including one from musician Stevie Wonder, according to the company. It enables visually-impaired people to check messages, the time and set alarms via a Bluetooth connection to other smart devices.