Wearable tech is fairly new, but that doesn’t mean that certain gimmicks haven’t already emerged. One of our least favorite is the phenomenon that we call “Slap a screen on it!” where companies simply shrink a screen down, throw it on something (typically to be worn on a wrist), and call it wearable tech. This assumes a lot of things–including that we all want to wear a screen, and that we prefer a screen as a method of interacting with technology.
Often, this is not true–which is why we love what Eone is doing. Eone reached out to the vision impaired community and helped solve a specific problem in a functional but fashionable way. We spoke to Eone who told us more about their awesome product:
Tell us about The Bradley.
The Bradley is our first product. It is a fashion timepiece, designed in collaboration with the vision impaired, that you can touch and see to check time.
Instead of traditional watch hands, time is indicated by two ball bearings (connected by magnets to a watch movement beneath the watch face)–one indicating minutes (top) and one indicating hours (side). Even if the ball bearings are displaced when touched, the magnets will move the bearings back to the correct time with a gentle shake of the wrist.
At Eone we create quality, innovative products that can be used by anyone regardless of age, gender, or ability. We believe strongly in the power of inclusive design and accessibility.
Our founder Hyungsoo Kim founded the company while completing his MBA at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. We are now based in Washington D.C.
What inspired you to create The Bradley?
One of Hyungsoo’s classmates at MIT who was vision impaired had a talking watch but found it audibly disruptive and embarrassing to use in public–during class, on dates, or in the movie theater. Hyungsoo asked him if there were other types of watches available for the blind, and he told him there are analog watches where you can open the cover to touch the hands. But these tactile analog watches are often fragile and the hands move easily when you touch them. Since then Hyungsoo was determined to develop a timepiece that you didn’t have to look at to tell time.
We’ve named our timepiece after ex-naval officer Brad Snyder, who lost his sight from an explosion while serving in Afghanistan, and went on to win to two gold medals in swimming at the London 2012 Paralympics. He once said “I’m not going to let blindness build a wall around me.” He has inspired us and you’ll see that reflected in The Bradley.
[Editor’s note: We’re so inspired by this. Learn more of the serendipitous story about how Eone connected with Brad Snyder here and watch the video below to hear more about Brad’s story and Eone’s timpiece.]
What sets The Bradley apart from other wearables?
Since The Bradley doesn’t require sight to tell the time, we call it a timepiece instead of a watch. But it’s not just functional, it’s also fashionable. Through talking with our community, we discovered the blind don’t want to wear an accessory that draws attention to their disability. So we gave up our idea to create a product for the blind and instead designed a fashion accessory that can be worn by everyone. That’s where we got our company name: Eone stands for everyone.
What has been the hardest obstacle for you in creating The Bradley? What has been your favorite part?
When we initially tackled this issue, we designed a timepiece with a braille display. After meeting with blind focus groups, we learned that only about 10% of the blind population can read braille. We learned that it is incredibly important to collaborate with your end user throughout the entire design process. These conversations taught us that the blind don’t want to wear an accessory that draws attention to their disability. They want a product that everyone wants, but is also accessible for their needs. So we gave up our idea to create a product for the blind and instead designed a fashion accessory that can be worn by everyone. While this was the hardest obstacle, it was also our favorite part because it allowed us to interact with our community and ultimately build a better timepiece.
Where can we buy The Bradley and what is the cost?
The Bradley is available on our website in three different styles: Bradley Black, Classic Mesh, and Classic Canvas; prices range from $275-315.
What can we expect next from Eone?
We’re thrilled to share that we’re collaborating with Danish watch brand, Skagen. The special edition will be released in mid-March. We’ve also just finished development on a new iteration of The Bradley. The line will have the same tactile functionality, but the aesthetic will include a wider breadth of colors. The new line will be released in mid-April. We are also planning to launch a new product later this year–it will be an alarm clock named after Christine Ha, known as The Blind Cook, winner of season 3 of MasterChef.
Also, we’re launching a new website in April that will be completely accessible for people who are vision impaired and use screen readers. We’ve written a little about the difficulties in creating an accessible website on our blog: (1) Designing a Beautiful Website That’s Also Functional and (2) The Brains Behind our Soon-to-Launch Accessible Website.
Finally, we recently partnered with The Seeing Eye, the oldest existing guide dog school in the world. We’ll be donating a portion of the profits from every timepiece sold to support their mission of enhancing the independence, dignity and self-confidence of people who are blind.
We’re big fans of this simple, functional, problem-solving example of wearable tech. Visit Eone’s website to learn more!
Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables. You look nice today!