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article imageWorld's first Braille phone goes on sale

By Tim Sandle     May 18, 2014 in Technology
London - A U.K. company called OwnFone has launched what is said to be the world's first Braille phone. The front and back of the phone has been constructed using 3D printing techniques.
The new phone has been put on sale in the U.K., retailing for £60 ($100). The phone was invented by Tom Sunderland. Sutherland says that the device is designed to provide an instant connection between blind users and their friends and family.
Sutherland indicated to the BBC that the use of 3D printing on the front and back of the device helped to keep the costs down. This also enabled the raised surface to be created for the Braille lettering.
Sunderland, the OwnFone founder, is quoted by The Upcoming as saying: “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.”
Braille is a tactile writing system used by the blind and the visually impaired. Braille is named after its creator, Frenchman Louis Braille, who went blind following a childhood accident. In 1824, at the age of 15, Braille developed his code for the French alphabet as an improvement on night writing. He published his system, which subsequently included musical notation, in 1829.
While other companies have designed Braille phones in the past, OwnFone indicates that its device is the first of its kind to go on sale. Sunderland told The Daily Mail: “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.”
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