OwnFone can create customised mobile phones for just £60 using new 3D printing techniques
A London-based company has begun selling a Braille mobile phone to help blind people stay in touch with friends and family for just £60, thanks to cheap and easily adaptable 3D printing techniques.
The company already sells extremely simple, cut-down mobile phones that only have a handful of buttons and no screen. There are separate buttons labelled with the name of family members or any other preset, and dial and hang-up buttons.
The devices are designed for either children or the elderly, who may need a simplified interface, or for business applications where users can be restricted in who they are able to call with a company phone.
Now OwnFone has developed a model that has Braille labels rather than printed text. It can also create phones with custom textures on each button, or raised text, designed for blind users who cannot read Braille.
This customisation has been made possible by 3D printers, which allow the company to make each case unique in an affordable fashion.
The phones are available on the company’s website from £60, for a two button model, to £67.50 for one with four pre-set numbers. The Islington-based firm is in talks with retailers to get the devices in high street shops.
OwnFone’s inventor, Tom Sunderland, said: “It’s really a device that’s designed to connect you with the most important people in your life, or who you depend on.
“If you’ve got poor eyesight you can make out the name in bold, but you can also associate names with textures. it works really nicely. It’s just pushing what we can do with the 3D-printing process. We’ve got a lot of international interest and we’re looking at expanding overseas.”