3D-Printed Braille Phone Helps The Blind Communicate With Friends

3D-Printed Braille Phone Helps The Blind Communicate With Friends

OwnFone has developed a device that can be personalized with raised buttons and pre-programmed to call specific contacts.

Leah Gonzalez
  • 20 may 2014

Smart devices or apps that cater to the blind or visually-impaired are not exactly breaking news since companies and developers have created designs and built prototypes of such devices before, and there are already a few apps that are useful to blind or low-vision users.

London-based company OwnFone has recently launched a Braille mobile phone that makes it easy for blind and low-vision users to keep in touch with loved ones or to contact emergency services.

The company’s Braille mobile phone, which went on sale in the UK, has front and back panels that are manufactured using 3D-printing technologies. The phone can be personalized with Braille buttons that are pre-programmed to dial up certain contacts.

OwnFone is not the first Braille phone ever invented since other companies have designed similar phones in the past, but the company says their Braille phone is the first one to go on sale.


The phone was created by inventor Tom Sunderland who stated that 3D-printing the front and back panels of the phone helps keep the cost of the phone down. 3D-printing technology also makes it easier to customize the buttons of the phone. The company’s 3D phone printing process is currently patent pending.

The phone is only available in the UK at this time and currently sells for £60. It is the most expensive of OwnFone’s current mobile options.

The company launched its first partially 3D-printed phone back in 2012. It followed up that product with the 1stFone, a device specially designed for children. The 1stFone is the size of a credit card and has buttons that can be programmed to call important contacts.

The Braille phone is based on the company’s earlier products in terms of size, design, and customizability. The phone can be customized with two or four Braille buttons that are pre-programmed to call family, friends, or emergency contacts. The phone is designed to help the blind or visually-impaired, and for those who do not read Braille, the phone can also be customized with raised or printed text on the buttons.

Like the OwnFone’s earlier phone models, the Braille phone can be ordered and customized via the company’s website.


[h/t] BBC

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