This incredible smartwatch converts texts and emails into braille.

Dot Inc. is making giant leaps in braille technology and accessibility.

There hasn't really been a true innovation in technology for the blind in 15 years. Until now.

When Eric Ju Yoon Kim was in college at the University of Washington, he saw something that he thought should change.

A blind student entered a group meeting Kim was attending with a massive heavy book. It was the bible translated into braille — and the massive book was just one of the 23 volumes necessary to read the whole text.


There should be a device, Kim thought, that lets people with visual impairments read whenever and wherever they want without having to lug giant books around with them. A digital reading device perhaps, like a braille iPad. Surely someone had thought of that.

To Kim's surprise, such a device didn't exist.

He saw a need and set out to fill it.

Eric Ju Yoon Kim (center) and the rest of the Dot team. Photo from dotincorp.com, used with permission.

Kim put together a team of specialists in hardware, software ,and design and is now the CEO of Dot Inc.

The company specializes in tech innovations for the blind and visually impaired. Its mission is to increase braille accessibility and literacy and to "reduce the invisible discrimination against people living with blindness."

Their latest product, the Dot Watch, is a sleek and stylish smartwatch that converts texts, emails, notifications, and even e-books, into braille.

Sleek, stylish, and innovative. Photo courtesy of Doo Hyuk Chang and Dot Inc.

"While talking with visually impaired people themselves, there were many who said that the current watches made for [them] have their own flaws." Doo Hyuk Chang, Dot's Head of Media Relations, told Upworthy.

Previous watches for the visually impaired tended to rely on sound to relay information.

"Feedback by sound is absolutely fine," Chang said, "But what about in public places or during meetings? There are many situations where sound feedback is not the best way."

The Dot Watch. Photo courtesy of Doo Hyuk Chang and Dot Inc

When a Dot Watch wearer gets a text message, the watch vibrates and small pins on its surface rise and fall to produce 4 braille characters at a time. So maybe it's not the best way to read a novel, but it's an amazing development nonetheless.

When the Dot Watch isn't translating text notifications, like any other smart watch, it displays the time.

As touch screens become ubiquitous, technology becomes understandably limited for the visually impaired who navigate the world by touch and feel.

Dot's goal is to make the technology that many of us take for granted every day accessible to everyone.

"We are also thinking of a module that will be installed in public areas such as bus stops, metro stations, airports, and other locations," Chang told Upworthy of the company's road map. "For example, it could display the bus number, station name, time left for next transport to arrive."

But Dot's braille innovations mean little if the braille literacy rate remains where it is.

The National Federation of the Blind reports that only 10% of blind students in the U.S. are being taught braille in school.

That's the other problem Dot wants to solve.

"Through our devices," says Chang "not only the Dot Watch but also products in our future road map, we want to make the education of braille easier and accessible."

Users of the watch will have access to an app that can pronounce, out loud, a letter on your phone while displaying it on the watch in braille, providing an easy and convenient way for people to learn braille on their own.

Dot also wants to improve literacy with the upcoming Dot Pad, the device that fulfills Eric Ju Yoon Kim's vision of a braille iPad.

A preview of the Dot Pad, still in development. Photo from dotincorp.com used with permission.

According to Doo Hyuk Chang, the Dot Pad "will be the first braille device that can display in several lines, and not, all in one line like the products out in the market right now."

It will also be the first device to display graphs, functions, and other mathematical content that will make learning immeasurably easier for the visually impaired.

"This pad will make the education of braille easier, and education of studies in braille easier," Chang explains.

The company's use of simple magnets and materials also means their products are affordable.

Currently, the Dot Watch is only $300 for pre-order.

If that doesn't sound affordable, it's important to note that braille reading machines can cost thousands of dollars, which is a lot to ask of the estimated 10 million people in the U.S. who are blind or visually impaired.

Dot's vision of a world with more innovations for the blind is inspiring. And as their company grows, so does their mission.

"Our goal in the end is to have total independence [for] visually impaired people," explains Chang. "Visually impaired people walking on the streets alone without canes or guide dogs is what we are going to make possible one day, and technology is the key to this process."

When compassion intersects with technology, amazing things can happen.

It's often the most simple ideas that make the world a better place for everyone.

The Dot Watch is currently available for early pre-order on their website.

Heroes
Youtube

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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