By Alexandra Burlacu | May 19, 2014 07:20 AM EDT
A London-based company has launched what it claims to be the world's first Braille phone, and the device is now on sale in the UK for £60.
More specifically, this Braille phone from London firm OwnFone is the first of its kind to actually go on sale. While other companies have designed Braille phones in the past, this one is the world's first to hit commercial availability.
The front and back of the phone can be customized, and are build using 3D printing techniques. The company can also print raised text on the keypad for those who can't read Braille.
The man behind this phone, Tom Sunderland, said that 3D printing of the front and back of the device was an essential factor in keeping the costs down.
"3D printing... provides a fast and cost-effective way to create personalised Braille buttons," Sunderland told the BBC.
The phone is currently available only in the UK, and aims to allow blind users to keep in touch with friends and family in a convenient manner.
Back in 2012, the company launched what was one of the first partially 3D printed phones. OwnPhone then developed a special child-friendly model called 1stFone a year later. The 1stFone was the size of a credit card and had programmable buttons for essential contacts.
The new Braille phone from OwnFone is based on these two devices, offering a small form factor in a colorful design, while also allowing for personalization with pre-programmed buttons.
"OwnFone, working with our partner charities, launches the Braille Phone! This is an easy-to-use mobile phone with personalized braille buttons for blind or visually impaired people who struggle to use normal mobile phone," the company explained on its Facebook page. "The phone is available with 2 or 4 call buttons each personalized with a name in braille and pre-programmed with a telephone number. To make a call, all you have to do is press a braille call button and the phone will instantly connect the user with the person they need to call. Braille buttons complement word and image buttons already offered by OwnFone. The OwnFone with braille buttons starts from £60 Inc. VAT and is available to order from www.ownfone.com."