On May 16, 2014 BBC.com announced that London-based firm OwnFone of Islington, London, released what it called is the first Braille cell phone. The front and back of the phone was constructed using 3D printing techniques and could be customized. Other companies designed Braille phones in the past, but OwnFone said that its device was the first to go on sale. Initially the phone was available only in the UK at the retail price of £60. According to its inventor, Tom Sunderland, 3D printing of the front and back of the device helped to keep the costs down.
"The company, founded on the principles of simplicity, ease, andaffordability within the mobile phone market, gained notoriety back in 2012 when they introduced the first customizable handset which partially used 3D printing technology. A year later they introduced the 1stFone, which was targeted towards children ages 9-12. The 1stFone gave parents the ability to customize the device with buttons to call important people.
"This week OwnFone introduced the next device to their personalized phone lineup. This device, simply called the OwnFone Braille is specifically created for the vision impaired, and is the very first Braille phone available to consumers. Those interested, simply can go to the OwnFone website and customize the device. Once there, the customer has the option of choosing which names and numbers they would like programmed onto the main screen of the phone. The online system automatically converts English into braille. The customer can also customize the color for the face of the phone, or even add customized pictures if they choose, for a small additional £5 fee. Once created, the phone’s front and back, including the raised braille are 3D printed with stereolithography based technology. Tom Sunderland, the founder of OwnFone decided to use 3D printing because it was the cheapest method for creating hundreds of phones, all which have a different form to them" (http://3dprint.com/3930/ownfone-braille-3d-printed/, accessed 05-18-2014).