Dot is the world's first braille smartwatch

A group of researchers created the world's first smartwatch capable of erecting braille characters, thus allowing blind people to read SMS messages from their smartphones.

Before this, they were limited to smartphones reading the messages out to them, which was often quite impersonal.

"If you got a message on iOS from your girlfriend, for example, you had to listen to Siri read it to you in that voice," Dot co-founder and chief executive officer Eric Ju Yoon Kim told South Korean technology website Tech In Asia.

"Wouldn't you rather read it yourself and hear your girlfriend's voice saying it in your head?"

The device itself looks like the Fitbit fitness tracker, but it has pins which can rise and fall at customisable speeds. Using magnets, the device is capable of showing four braille characters at any one time.

The device is called Dot, and can last for some five days on a single charge. It has a battery life of 10 hours. The device makes use of Bluetooth technology, which tethers it to a smartphone, allowing it to retrieve text from applications like iMessage.

But the device is not limited to reading text messages only – it can also be used to read longer messages, articles, even novels. It can also tell the time, provide directions and set alarms.

The product will be on sale later this year. First it will reach the States and Canada, where it will have about 10,000 smartwatches retailing for less than $US300 (£192).

The company has also installed modules at ATMs and in train stations. Like the smartwatch, these modules can be programmed to display information updated in real time, such as account balance information or a subway schedule.