OwnFone, the mobile phone company, based in the UK has made it possible for the blind to use mobile phones as per their own requirements. This mobile phone is a simple and light weight device which can be installed with quick-dial buttons of braille. Users can customize it before they are 3D printed by OwnFone. With these pre-programmed braille buttons, visually impaired people can easily call their friends and family members. In an age of smartphones, the facade of OwnFone is stripped to a basic form. With a de-cluttered facade and basic functionality, it is ideal for visually impaired people.
How Does OwnFone Look?
There is no screen, physical dial pad or a camera in the braille handsets of OwnFone. With a size as that of a credit card, only necessary contacts can be stored in this device. There are only four quick dial buttons at the front of each handset, apart from the answer, power and volume buttons. While the first three buttons are set to call certain contacts, the fourth button is used for calling Triple Zero emergency services. Up to 12 buttons with printed names or images can be set up.
How can People Use It?
At the top of the phone, users can opt to have their name printed and at the back, they can have their number printed for their ease. The phone builder on the website of OwnFone can be used to set up the quick-dial buttons with the desired names and numbers of the required contacts. For emergency services, the 4th quick-dial button can also be added. Users can select from a range of designs that are available on the website.
As the design is customized, the device is 3D printed by the company and sent to the user. With 3D printing, the cost can be minimized significantly and the lead-time between orders placed and orders delivered can also be decreased. The quick-dial numbers can also be changed by updating and reprinting the handset.
OwnFone was first unveiled in 2012. According to Tom Sunderland, the Founder of OwnFone, 3D printing provides a quick and cost effective way to get past the barrier of the cost of developing a braille phone as compared to the market size.
Now, with 3D printed braille phones of OwnFone, blind people can easily use them to call their near and dear ones and also use it for emergency.