For the visually impaired, the simple task of finding out the correct time can be difficult. Hyungsoo Kim MBA ’12 realized this first-hand when a blind friend would often ask him the time during class. The friend had few other options. A talking watch could be loud and distracting and physically touching the hands on an analog clock quickly destroys a watch.
Realizing there were no suitable wristwatches for the blind, Kim sought to create an all-inclusive timepiece that was durable, tactile, and non-audible.
“My first idea was a braille watch, but when I brought in to blind user group meetings, they hated the idea,” he says. “They were very sensitive to the design—their main request was to create a stylish watch that anyone would wear.”
Kim began working on a suitable watch as an MIT student in 2011. Following his graduation, and investing his own money, the timepiece became a full-time pursuit. Nearly two years later, Kim feels he has created a timepiece that meets both stylish demands and practical applications.
The creation, the Bradley, is a stylish, titanium timepiece. Users don’t tell time—they feel it.
“Instead of traditional watch hands, time is indicated by two ball bearings — one indicating minutes (top), and one indicating hours (side).
These two ball bearings are connected, with magnets, to a watch movement beneath the watch face. The magnets make it so that even if the ball bearings are moved when touched, they spring back to the correct time with a gentle shake of your wrist.”
In a nod to the style request, the Bradley’s band is available in stainless steel, fabric, and leather and three colors: mustard yellow, olive green, and silver blue.
The watch’s namesake is Bradley Snyder, a U.S. Navy lieutenant who lost sight in both eyes during an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan in 2011. Less than one year later, Bradley won two Gold medals and one Silver medal in swimming at the 2012 Paralympics and served as the U.S. team’s flag bearer during the Paralympics Closing Ceremony.
Hyungsoo met Bradley during the watch’s developmental stage and says that Bradley is the product’s ideal spokesperson.
“I was connected to Lt. Snyder through an MIT classmate who was a former Navy SEAL,” he says. “I had heard about his Paralympic training, and after speaking to him, I knew instantly that he would be an inspiration for the finished product.”
Kim’s company, Eone Timepieces, also includes Media Lab doctoral student Jinha Lee. As of July 18, the group’s Kickstarter account has raised more than $275,000 (of a $40,000 goal) with nearly four weeks remaining in the campaign. The first watches are scheduled to ship in late 2013 while plans for more products, including a similarly-designed alarm clock, are in the development stages.