3D printing key to world's first commercial braille mobile phone

25 July, 2014

The constant innovation push in the world of 3D printing has led to the launch of the world's first braille mobile phone in Australia for people who are blind.

"OwnFone is proud to bring the world's first commercially available braille phone to Australia," said Brad Scoble, Director of OwnFone Australia.
"There are currently 35,000 people in Australia who are blind. Touchscreen technology is problematic for those Australians. OwnFone UK, in consultation with the blind and low vision community, developed a simple mobile phone without a touchscreen and one that users can personalise with braille buttons.
"The braille buttons are produced using 3D printing and customised for every customer, which makes OwnFone's braille phone a world-first."

Fast and affordable with 3D printing
Tom Sunderland, the UK-based inventor of OwnFone, said: "Incredibly, OwnFone is the first in the world to sell a braille phone which is personalised for every user. In the past, the cost of developing a braille phone versus the market size has been a barrier to entry. 3D printing provides a fast and affordable way to overcome this barrier."
Users in Australia can design their personalised braille phone on the OwnFone Australia website. They will need to provide up to three contact names, which will automatically be converted into braille. These names are then printed on the front of the phone in braille.
Scoble said: "OwnFone meets the need for a basic mobile phone to keep in touch. Smartphones are often too complicated, and in the case of people who are blind, not user-friendly.
"OwnFone's braille phone is very easy to design and easy to use. There is simple one button dialling, and the braille buttons are pre-programmed to call people of the user's choice, such as family, friends or carers.
"Users can only make and receive phone calls, and Triple Zero (000) is always included as an option, in case of an emergency."
Scoble added: "The braille phone complements our existing and popular OwnFone for kids and seniors. The only difference is in the design of the phone. Kids and seniors have the option of words or images as buttons, whereas people who are blind have braille."