The Bradley Tactile watch

On Kickstarter until August 15, 2013 is the Bradley timepiece project. It is a wristwatch that has tactile features that allow it to be used by people who are blind. It has an elegant design and greatly surpassed its fundraising goals.

The Bradley Timepiece tactile wristwatch. (Credit: Kickstarter by Eone)
The Bradley Timepiece tactile wristwatch. (Image credit: Kickstarter project by Eone)

Before this design, there were two general approaches to accessible wristwatches: talking watches and tactile watches like the one pictured below. Talking watches may not be easy to hear in noisy environments. With traditional tactile watches, users must lift a cover, which protects the delicate hands of the watch face.

A tactile watch with the cover open (image available without copyright from Wikipedia Commons)
A tactile watch with the cover open (image available without copyright from Wikipedia Commons)

The Bradley does away with hands and has two ball bearings that are magnetically attached to the movement, which makes the watch more durable. The position of the ball bearing on the face denotes the minutes, while the ball bearing around the periphery of the watch denotes the hours.

The Bradley timepiece is a good example of a design which incorporates Universal Design or Design for All principles. Its popularity on Kickstarter is more a testament to the attractiveness of the design than strictly to its utility for people who are blind. Such a watch can be used by people with and without visual impairments. The titanium watch has a very elegant appearance. My only worry is how much the titanium would scratch with everyday use, but that is not an accessibility topic!

See more information at the Eone Timepieces website. The site has a very elegant design, but unfortunately and ironically, the site is not very accessible in its current form (and is thus not an example of Universal Design).

About J. Bern Jordan

Bern is a Ph.D. candidate and researcher in accessibility, usability, user interface, and technology interested in extending usability to all people, including people with disabilities and those who are aging. He currently works at the Trace R&D Center in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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