read the news // live the culture
The Upcoming | Read the news // Live the culture
Friday 31st October 2014
Menu
Current affairsNewsScience and technology

OwnFone launches world’s first 3D printed Braille phone

  Saturday 17th May 2014
  Saturday 17th May 2014

London-based company OwnFone has launched the world’s first 3D printed Braille phone to provide visually challenged more independence with mobile services.

World’s first 3D printed Braille phone launched in the UK. Photo: OwnFone

The new Braille phone has been constructed using 3D printing on both front and back of the handset with added personalised buttons to cater specific needs of the blind.

It is currently available only in the UK for £60. However, the company plans to soon launch a Kickstarter campaign to sell OwnFone internationally.

The device is designed to provide an easy connection between the blind users and their family and friends. The OwnFone builder automatically converts contact names on buttons into Braille.

Tom Sunderland, the OwnFone 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. The phone can be personalised with two or four Braille buttons which are pre-programmed to call friends, family, carers or the emergency services.”

The product comes in a variety of colours and its users can also personalise their handset by selecting their own design and pictures from the firm’s website for an additional £5 fee.

In 2012, the company had released partially 3D printed phones. A year later the firm developed 1stFone, a credit card-sized handset, with programmable buttons for key contacts for four- to nine-year-olds.

The new Braille phone is based on these two previous versions.

Experts say it may be the first Braille phone available in the market but the idea is not an original one.

In 2009, Indian engineering student Sumit Dagar, working on his Masters Degree project, designed a prototype of a reasonably priced Braille phone.

Two years later, Dagar’s vision was highly praised at the TED 2011 conference in the US. He demonstrated his concept for a Braille phone, using a grid of pins that move up and down to create the shapes of words and image.

In 2012, he was given the Rolex Award for Enterprise to support and carry on with his project. His design uses shapes-memory alloy technology to expand and contract to its original shape after use.

Sunderland told MailOnline: “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.”

Aastha Gill


More about the author


Share this story


  • Pin It
  • Share on Google+
  • Reddit
  • Stumble
  • LinkedIn

Latest related

“Lavish praise” not good for child improvement finds study
“Lavish praise” not good for child improvement finds study

Heaping praise on struggling students could make them less likely to succeed, a recent study has shown. The study, [read more]

DEC launches unprecedented Ebola aid appeal as death toll surpasses 4,500
DEC launches unprecedented Ebola aid appeal as death toll surpasses 4,500

An unprecedented aid appeal has been launched by the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) after the group announced it [read more]

Zambian president Michael Sata dies in London after heart attack
Zambian president Michael Sata dies in London after heart attack

The 77-year-old Zambian president Michael Sata died on Tuesday 28th October in London’s King Edward VII hospital, [read more]

MP calls for “gender balance and fairness” in sport prizes
MP calls for “gender balance and fairness” in sport prizes

UK’s minister for sport Helen Grant has called for a “battle for gender balance and fairness” after a BBC Sport [read more]

Interstellar European premiere: red carpet live coverage from Leicester Square
Interstellar European premiere: red carpet live coverage from Leicester Square

We brought you a live feed of Interstellar‘s European premiere in London, with Matthew McConaughey, Jessica [read more]

Archives