World First Braille Phone For Blind Launches In OZ

Written by Alex Zaharov-Reutt      25/07/2014 | 10:28 | Category: MOBILE

OwnFone has launched the world's first mobile phone with a braille keyboard for people who are blind for $89, thanks to 3D printing technology.

World First Braille Phone For Blind Launches In OZ
OwnFone is a basic mobile phone designed to be as easy to use as possible, with a braille keyboard for blind users and models for children and seniors as can be seen in the image below. 

Brad Scoble, Director of OwnFone Australia, said: "OwnFone is proud to bring the world's first commercially available braille phone to Australia", and explained that with 35,000 people in Australia, there was a need for simple mobile technology that doesn't have the potential complications some touchscreen phones have for blind users. 
Mr Scoble also notes that "The braille buttons are produced using 3D printing and customised for every customer, which makes OwnFone's braille phone a world-first."

He explains that the Ownfone is very easy to use thanks to simple one-button dialling, with pre-programmed buttons to call people of the user's choice, such as family, friends or carers, and that the Triple Zero emergency number [like 911 or 112] is always included on the keypad as an option in case of emergency. 

Click to enlarge
The OwnFone comes in three versions - for kids, seniors and people who are blind.

Unlike normal phones, there is no normal number-based keypad, with the phone pre-programmed to dial specific numbers including 000 only, making it incredibly easy to use, low cost to own and operate and extremely personalisable. 

Although you cannot numbers that have not been pre-programmed in, the phone can answer calls from anyone. 

OwnFone's UK-based inventor, Tom Sunderland said: "Incredibly, OwnFone is the first in the world to sell a braille phone which is personalised for every user. In the past, the cost of developing a braille phone versus the market size has been a barrier to entry. 3D printing provides a fast and affordable way to overcome this barrier."

The OwnFone can be personalised with up to three contact names, which will be converted into braille and printed onto the front of the phone. 

Prices start at AUD $89, with call plans that start at $2.35 per week through the Vodafone network. 
OwnFone's site is here, with the Frequently Asked Questions section also packed with useful information.