You might remember OwnFone, a company which specializes in building basic, customizable phones aimed at the elder ones and at your kids. Now the company has extended its portfolio, introducing what it calls the world’s first Braille phone, which has been 3D-printed. The device is currently available only in the UK for £60, but we’ll soon see a Kickstarter campaign meant to raise funds in order to sell OwnFone internationally.
The OwnFone builder automatically converts contact names on buttons into Braille, being based on two previous versions of OwnFone devices. Tom Sunderland, the OwnFone founder, said the following:
This is the first phone to have a 3D printed keypad and for people that can’t read Braille, we can print texture and raised text on the phone. Our 3D phone printing process is patent pending. The phone can be personalised with two or four Braille buttons which are pre-programmed to call friends, family, carers or the emergency services.
Just like the phones currently available for purchase on OwnFone’s website, those wishing to buy a Braille phone will be able to customize it online. OwnFone’s technology can also be used to create textures and guide buttons for partially sighted or elderly people who can’t read Braille. 3D printing is used in order to add personalized buttons to the front of the device for specific contacts.
There have been designed other Braille handsets, but the CEO said this is the world’s first Braille phone to go on sale with a patent pending technology. He added the following:
There’s been many concept designs for Braille phones over the years, but all of them have so far remained as concepts. To develop any of these designs would be very expensive and the market for Braille phones is relatively small compared with mainstream markets. 3D printing provides a fast and affordable way to overcome this barrier.
Those buying and customizing an OwnFone Braille device on the website can also add colors or images for an additional amount of £5. OwnFone will 3D print the phone’s front and back as well as the raised braille using their stereolithography based 3D printing technology that you can see in action in the video from below.