May 17, 2014

London-based British company OwnFone has released what it says the world's first customisable Braille handset to give visually challenged users more independence with mobile devices.

The company uses 3D printing to construct the front and back of the phone and add personalised buttons for specfic needs. Users can also customise the phone with their own design, their favourite color and pictures.

Although other Braille phones have been designed in the past, OwnFone says they are the first company to make it availble for consumers. When users specify a custom design online, the OwnFone phone builder automatically converts contact names and numbers into Braille. For those partially blind or aged people who can't read Braille, the company can print textures and guide buttons on the keypad.

OwnFone launched one of the world's first custom 3D printed mobile phone in 2012. And in 2013 the company developed a simple credit-card sized handset called 1stFone for four- to nine-year-olds.

The new Braille phone is based on these previous two versions and is available for £60 in the UK.

"The phone can be personalised with two or four Braille buttons which are pre-programmed to call friends, family, carers or the emergency services," Tom Sunderland, the company's founder told the BBC.

"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."

Sunderland said Braille phones is relatively small compared with mainstream markets, therefore to develop any of these designs would be too expensive using traditional methods. '3D printing provides a fast and affordable way to overcome this barrier.' Sunderland said.

Sunderland said the company is planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign to sell OwnFone internationally.

Watch below the OwnFone Braille Phone has been tested by seven-year-old Will who has been blind since birth.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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Shannon wrote at 7/30/2014 2:02:07 AM:

How can i purchase an ownphone i have a 12 year old son who has been blind since birth n he wants a phone like the other teenagers.

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