Working for People with Sight Loss

‘Getting Smarter’ with the Dot Watch – by Brian Manning

Dot Watch Braille Watch, in white and grey, with 4-cell tactile display

IT trainer Brian Manning provides us with an insight into the world’s first Braille Smart Watch.

Recently I was delighted to take delivery on a trial basis of a smart braille watch called the Dot Watch.

As I have worn a conventional braille watch since childhood, I am used to consulting my wrist for the time and I would be lost without same I am ashamed to say.

The Dot Watch is fitted with a bracelet and a typical enough watch face with three buttons located on the front side of the device.

It has four refreshable braille cells located on the face of the watch with two navigation bars for scrolling through the text under the cells.

The three buttons front facing on the watch are where you would expect to find the winder on a traditional watch with a select button to the right of the winder, the winder itself and the home button to the left of the winder.

Although you can use the Dot Watch without its various smart components it is highly advisable to pair it with a smart phone to obtain the maximum benefit from the device.

I went immediately to the App Store and downloaded the Dot Watch app and installed it.

The app walked me through the pairing process and soon my dot watch was a smart watch tethered to my iPhone.

To turn on or off the watch, just press and hold the home button for about three seconds. You will be prompted by a vibration alert to inform you that it is now turned on.

When using the device, the first function you will encounter is the actual clock facility itself.

Just press the select button and the four braille cells will display the time. The default format will be for example 0 8 4 3 informing you that it is 8 43. This format can be reset in the settings feature of the smart phone app.

Press the select button a second time and you will be prompted for the second, AM or PM and a third time to have the date displayed.

Now you can move the winder towards yourself and read ‘noti’ for notifications and press the select button to begin scrolling your notifications.

Move the winder again towards yourself and you will encounter the stopwatch, again press the select button to start same.

A twist of the winder again to the left and you will meet the timer on the braille display you can again select this to start the timer.

Another twist of the winder and you will meet the memo option. Once your watch is paired with a smart phone you can write up to ten memos in the dot watch app and peruse them here in the memo interface of the watch.

If you want to check the battery life on the device, just press the select button and twist the winder away from yourself to the right and the battery strength will be displayed. To clear the display at any time, just press the home button.

A very useful function I have found using the device is the caller ID. When your smart phone rings the watch will vibrate and the name or number of the person ringing you will be displayed in braille. Just scroll through the text to read the full name of the person ringing.

Obviously just having a four-cell display will lead to natural limitations for the device but it is none the less a handy tool for the average braille user.

Is it worth having? Yes. Is it worth buying? I am not so sure.

I suppose with the approaching yuletide festivities, it would be a handy stocking filler for the technology aware braille user in your life.

With a price at over €400 it is comparatively cheap for digital braille technologies. It should be pointed out as well that it does have quite a useful braille learning tutorial integrated between the app and watch for any aspiring braille learners.

The good thing is you will know who is calling, the bad news is you can never be late again.