Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Braille" Application for Pebble Smartwatch

Braille is a Pebble smartwatch app that allows the vision impaired or anyone wanting to be discrete to check the time.  If you are interested in installing this free app on your smartwatch just go to the Pebble App store and search for "Braille" or click on the image below.

Braille is available on the Pebble appstore 
Give us a "like" heart while you're there.
If you haven't heard about the Pebble smartwatch you probably have been living under a rock (or a pebble).  The Pebble has been one of the more successful KickStarter campaigns.  We got ours a few months ago and immediately put it to use.  Overall, the Pebble is a great value.
One thing that is often handy is to be able to tell what time it is without looking at your watch.  This can be useful in business meetings, on dates, or when it is dark like at a movie.  Nothing says "I'd rather be doing something else" like checking the time.  Also, this is an absolute requirement for the vision impaired.

Before getting the Pebble I solved this problem with the very innovative Bradley Timepiece; a watch specifically designed for the vision impaired.  The challenge was to bring vision impaired features to the Pebble.  Fortunately, Pebble has a nice cloud based SDK that allows a developer to upload custom apps to the watch and make them available to the public.  With a bit of studying and some help from the Pebble Developer forums we were off and coding....
How the "Braille" app works:

 - Press UP button: Count one watch vibration for each hour.

 - Press DOWN button: Count one watch vibration for every 10 minutes past the hour.  An additional quick two vibrations is added if the time is closer to the next larger 10 minute interval.  This gives a very quick resolution of <5 minutes (if you need to be more accurate, them it's time to look at your watch).  For example:  If it is 30-34 minutes past the hour the watch will give 3 long vibrations.  For 35-39 minutes past the hour the watch will give 3 long vibrations plus two quick vibrations.

- Press SELECT button:  Light the Pebble if the backlight is enabled.

- Bluetooth Alert:  "Braille" also does a vibration alert for 5 seconds and inverts the screen if Bluetooth is disconnected.  Handy for making sure you are not separated from your phone.  Upon re-connection "Braille" will vibration alert again and turn the screen back to normal.

For the curious, the icon on the watchface is in the Braille pattern for the letter "B".

Thanks for checking us out.  Enjoy the "Braille" app and let us know if you have any suggestions for improvement.