World first Braille mobile phone launches in Australia

Customisable phone uses 3D printing to tailor handset

The OwnFone braille mobile is bespoke for each user

The OwnFone braille mobile is bespoke for each user

People who are vision impaired now have their own mobile phone thanks to NSW-based OwnFone which has developed the special mobile phone in consultation with the blind and low vision community.

The phone was developed in the United Kingdom, it has no touch screen and instead uses 3D printing to customise the handset for each user.

The original OwnFone was developed as a bare bones mobile phone alternative targeted at seniors and children.

OwnFone Australia director, Brad Scoble, said touchscreen technology is problematic for the blind or vision impaired.

“The braille buttons are produced using 3D printing and customised for every customer, which makes OwnFone’s braille phone a world-first.”

The UK-based inventor of OwnFone, Tom Sunderland, said that the prohibitive cost of developing a braille phone versus the market size was previously a barrier to entry.

“3D printing provides a fast and affordable way to overcome this barrier.”

The handset is used only to receive and make phone calls and adds to the company’s existing range of mobile phones for children and seniors.

Users can design their own handset on the firm’s website. They will need to provide up to three contact names. These names are then printed on the front of the phone in braille.

The braille version of the OwnFone is available nation wide. Prices start at $89 and call plans start at $2.35 a week.

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Tags OwnFonebraille phone3d printingTom SunderlandBrad Scoble

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