A wristwatch for the visually impaired

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4 capacitive touch buttons with haptic feedback to read the braille digits ⠴ ⠂⠆⠒ ⠲ ⠢ ⠖ ⠶ ⠦ ⠔. 4 buttons to switch between the 4 digits (hh/mm or dd/mm).

No school these days because of COVID-19 here in Germany. School material and homework are send by email. I am teaching my daughter now. Two weeks before easter holidays she got the additional homework to do a research paper about the eye. One of the given topics was the visually impaired and how they find their way in everyday life. I didn't notice braille before, but now my daughter and I see it everywhere, especially on medical packaging, and we're trying to read it sometimes. Then, out of the sudden, my daughter asked me if blind people also have wristwatches and what they would look like. A few days later the idea for quattro was born...

Read the time

Press the upper and lower button simultaneously.

Press one of the four buttons to read the according digit. Upper button hh:mm, right button hh:mm, lower button hh:mm, left button hh:mm.

Touch the four round recesses to read the according digit.

Read the date

Press the left and right button simultaneously. Then continue as for reading the time.


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  • Power supply considerations

    M. Bindhammer04/25/2020 at 13:36 0 comments

    I think for Quattro I will use a dual power supply. A CR1220 for the RTC and a LiPo for the rest. I got some ultra thin 3.7V LiPo's with an integrated protection circuitry.

    • 40.8 x 30.2 x 3.8mm
    • Protected against overcharging > 4.25V
    • Protected against discharge < 3V
    • Rated voltage 3.7V
    • Capacity 500mA

    Should fit nicely on one side of a 50 x 50mm PCB together with the coin cell holder, the charging circuit, USB connector and boost converter:

  • It's not a display, it's a touchplay

    M. Bindhammer04/14/2020 at 17:23 0 comments

    The watch will consist of two PCBs. Started with the upper one and created the schematic. Also wanted to order laser cut and surface engraved acrylic glass to cover the upper PCB, but was not possible. Acrylic glass is temporarily unavailable, needed for spit protection in shops. Just ask myself why black acrylic glass is also not available.

    Touchplay PCB routed, work of a long day. Bottom view gerber rendering. The four circular touch pads are on the top. Pager motor is in the PCB center. No ground planes on top and bottom. Not sure if I need to shield the motor area. We will see.

    Nice looking boards from JLCPCB. Forgot to include the stencil though. Need to re-order...

    A couple of days later I got the stencil. As usual for JLCPCB completely oversized. Fortunately the stainless steel stencil can be easily cut to the desired size with a pair of scissors.

    Two problems occured while testing the first populated board:

    • Forgot to connect GND of the pager motor driver circuitry with the main GND
    • Touch sensor U4 does not work properly. I replaced the IC but the touch sensor still works not reliable. After checking the layout I think the problem could be related to a GND trace I put underneath the IC on the bottom side

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Jon wrote 09/02/2020 at 21:01 point

This is more than just a great accessibility project. This is a great way to eliminate the social stress generated from checking the time. Never have to look away! I daresay I'm not the only person who'd teach themselves braille numbers as part of integrating such a watch into their lives. Good luck!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Dan Maloney wrote 04/13/2020 at 21:09 point

I used to work with a couple of blind people and as I recall they both had regular analog watches with a flip-up crystal, kind of like the lid on a pocket watch. They'd just feel the hands to get the time. This solves the digital problem in a clever way. Nice!

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