The market in overflowing with new inventions but it took so much time for designers to finally come up with watches specially catering the sightless. In the past, there were handful wrist watches targeting blind people, but these designs were experimental and never came to culmination. Presently there are several watch models designed specifically keeping the needs and comforts of the visually impaired. Various well-known watch designers think this market segment has an enormous potential. There is a rise in wrist watch designs for this category which includes the vibrating watch, talking watch, Braille watch etc.
These special watches cater to two categories like the visually impaired and people with partial blindness. The sole purpose of these lines of wrist watches or timepieces is to help them keep track of time without the help of other people. It is wonderful that these watches integrate various kinds of senses like touch and sound.
Initially, most watches targeted for this market segment are ineffective and complicated. The usability of this watch is simple and clear making it very user-friendly.
The primary problem faced by people in this category is the ability to tell time without relying on others. The target audience for these categories of wrist watches have several problems like the complicated modes, look, sturdiness, band size, battery life, price etc. Just because the person is blind doesn’t mean they don’t care about the design, in fact many sightless people care about fashion, how they look and what they wear. Previously there weren’t many watches incorporating beauty with easy functions but now with the rise and that’s what this visually impaired need.
Most of the regular wrist watches have these features but special watches crafted for the visually impaired have some if not all. Each one of these features is of high importance for user satisfaction.
Resilience: Most people complain that the watches designed for the visually impaired aren’t very sturdy and wear out within a short span of time. Durability is a very important feature.
Appeal: Thoughtful designs are great but the blind love beauty just like the rest of us, hence having a chic design is a very important feature.
Band size: Flexibility of band size is important for comfortable wearing.
Simple modes or functions: The idea is to make time telling a simple process, complicated modes are an obstruction to this concept.
Realistically priced: Most of these watches have a futuristic look but let’s be real, not everyone has money to buy overly expensive watches. Most people are willing to pay 100-500 USD on a watch that tells time aloud but anything more isn’t for everybody.
How it works
Most of the watches work on feel and sound, the design varies but the method is the same. There are Braille watches that use the Braille language for the visually impaired to read time, simple designs make the time reading process easier. Most of the watches have small dots or different shapes like squares or triangles to denote minutes and hours. The new models come in an array of styles; some follow the traditional method and others look like bracelets, wrist bands and some look like sleek timepieces that you can keep in your pocket.
Some watches also have large fonts and hands so that the user can clearly tell time. Nevertheless the new versions of Braille watches have the talking or vibrating feature. The talking feature gets triggered by pushing a button or in some cases activated by motion.
1. Braille Wrist Watch
This is a portable watch that’s designed for the visually impaired to tell time at ease. These days Braille watches are very common, so you might find one as per your liking in analog or digital. The analog watches have an open face to let the user feel the dots and know the time, and the digital one use both feel and sound. However designer Lawrence Kwok has designed the “Braille Wristwatch” in a stylish yet minimalistic way, which makes sure all the unnecessary dots are removed so the user can focus on relevant information.
2. OOSH Braille Watch
The OOSH designed by WinG Li is an amazing watch. Simplicity in its design marks its uniqueness. It’s a Braille watch that tells the user time simply by touching or feeling the dots on the face of the watch. It’s great because it uses touch and sound. It also has a voice activation feature, which gets through motion, just tilt the watch towards your ear and it will audibly tell you the time. The stylish look and effortless mode makes this watch absolutely appealing.
3. Tactile Wrist-Watch
It is a sleek design by Jacob Rynkiewicz. As the name suggests it relies on the sense of touch to successfully tell time to the sightless. This model allows the user to touch it causing a direct interaction with the timepiece. Designed like a simple wrist band, it’s flexible and the rubber material avoids causing skin irritability making it a cool design.
The dots around the circumference indicates the different hours, the front of the watch consists of a button when pressed raises the minute hand. The person wearing the watch can rotate the minute hand and check the dots on the center button. The user can tell time by touching the watch’s shell with their hand. The Tactile Wrist-Watch functions on the sense of ‘feel’ and it proves just like features, the aesthetics matter.
4. Senito Digital Tactile Watch
Designed for the blind, this avant-garde wrist watch created by Matthew Wagerfield is a mesh of motorized and modern-day design and technology. Sentio shows 7-segment displays and reveals the minutes or hours according to its setting.
The 14 segments marked on the face are mechanically animated. Each segment rises up, this way you can feel and touch it. It has a classy yet sturdy look and comes in silver and red with an awesome tactile display. I like the exterior and simple function of the watch. Overall it’s an excellent and fresh concept for anyone with or without anyone visual impairment.