Every day new extraordinary uses for 3D printing emerge. Today, a British company called OwnFone announced a new phone that’s quite the innovation. The company, founded on the principles of simplicity, ease, and affordability within the mobile phone market, gained notoriety back in 2012 when they introduced the first customizable handset which partially used 3D printing technology. A year later they introduced the 1stFone, which was targeted towards children ages 9-12. The 1stFone gave parents the ability to customize the device with buttons to call important people.
This week OwnFone introduced the next device to their personalized phone lineup. This device, simply called the OwnFone Braille is specifically created for the vision impaired, and is the very first Braille phone available to consumers. Those interested, simply can go to the OwnFone website and customize the device. Once there, the customer has the option of choosing which names and numbers they would like programmed onto the main screen of the phone. The online system automatically converts English into braille. The customer can also customize the color for the face of the phone, or even add customized pictures if they choose, for a small additional £5 fee. Once created, the phone’s front and back, including the raised braille are 3D printed with stereolithography based technology. Tom Sunderland, the founder of OwnFone decided to use 3D printing because it was the cheapest method for creating hundreds of phones, all which have a different form to them.
“The phone can be personalized with two or four Braille buttons, which are pre-programmed to call friends, family, careers or the emergency services,” Mr Sunderland told the BBC.com. “This is the first phone to have a 3D printed keypad and for people that can’t read Braille, we can print texture and raised text on the phone. Our 3D phone printing process is patent pending.”
The technology used by OwnFone is currently patent pending. The braille phone costs just £60, and is currently available in the United Kingdom. Having said this, Sunderland has stated that they are planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign shortly, in order to make the phones available internationally. The exact date of the crowdfunding campaign has not been announced as of yet. For those who are vision impaired and can not read braille, the phone can be created with customizable raised symbols, or letters if the user wishes.
Join in on the discussion of this new innovative device, at the OwnFone Braille forum thread at 3DPB.com. Check out the video below of five OwnFone Braille phone faces being 3d printed.