One of the many things in life I take for granted is having the ability to quickly glance at my wrist and know exactly what time it is. When you think about it, checking the time is a very simple, innocuous action that most people do reflexively numerous times throughout the day. What a lot of people with the sense of sight don’t realize is that this is a luxury not afforded to those who are blind. The current landscape of watches for the blind involve socially awkward and poorly made watches that rely on either tactile senses of touch or the audio route of hearing. Unfortunately, using a watch that announces the time draws unwanted attention to somebody who’s attempting to surreptitiously check the time (imagine trying to check the time during a conference or board room meeting), or using an analog ‘touch’ watch which is prone to being changed to the wrong time when you touch the hands on its face.
This makes for an unfortunate conundrum that’s highly unique to a very specific demographic of people around the world, but thankfully due to the tireless work of a D.C.-based startup, those who are visually impaired now have an innovative solution to tell the time: the E-One Bradley Watch.
E-One (named to reflect the phrase ‘every one’) and their Bradley model prototype provide for a brilliant fix for the current models of tactile-based watches that are out there. By using a series of ball bearings that move on a fixed track, The Bradley time piece has the same movement that most mainstream watches have but utilizes overlapping magnets to ensure that if the ball bearing were to be pushed out of place, the magnet could safely move it back to accurately reflect the time (see the video below).
The only thing more impressive than the ingenuity behind the watch is the journey that took E-One’s founders to create it.
The Story Behind the Watch
Hyungsoo Kim, founder and CEO of the company, first learned about the problem with sight-focused watches during his time in business school when one of his friends and fellow classmates who happened to be blind had to rely on either awkward audio watches or analog watches that would inaccurately tell the time. Hyungsoo and his team (Amanda Sim, Graphic Design Lead, David Zacher, Design Lead, and Nick Gu, Production Lead) worked with award-winning Paralympics athlete Bradley Snyder on the ideation of E-One’s current watch model. Bradley Snyder is a Naval Academy grad and former bomb defusing expert attached to a Navy SEAL company that served in Afghanistan. During a tour, he lost his ability to see when an IED went off during an attempt to defuse it. Unwilling to let this deter him from his level of physical activity, Snyder was the perfect partner to collaborate on the model.
The final prototype, dubbed ‘The Bradley’ in honor of their collaboration, is a watch that provides a high level of function both to those visually impaired and those who can glance at their watch to tell time.
Beyond its functionality and inspirational story, what really drives the value of this watch is its rather au courant sense of style.
Blind or Not, This Watch Looks Good
Beyond the watch’s value props of functionality, quality, and an incredible journey to its creation, what draws me most to the Bradley is its uncanny sense of style. Its simple design only further emphasizes its rather unique form, almost immediately drawing attention to the watch in a very positive way. The fact that it can be used by both the blind and those who can see makes this a watch that transcends the idea of catering to one demographic, quickly becoming a unique item that has the propensity of becoming a fashion staple.
Simply put, this thing looks damn cool and its ability to switch out between various stained leather and metal bands makes it a purchase that’s well worth anyone’s time.
The cherry topping to E-One’s ‘Bradley’ saga is their most recent Kickstarter campaign they launched. The company needed to bridge a slight gap of funding between taking The Bradley from prototype to full-fledged production, which is why they decided to launch a crowd-funding campaign to help provide the final push the team needed. I remember speaking with Hyungsoo before the campaign’s launch and his excitement/anticipation of meeting his goals, so I definitely know he was not expecting that his Kickstarter goal of $40,000 would have been met in a few hours and within a few days it’s already hit well over $300,000.
That’s right, with 24 days to go The Bradley has now hit $347,808 of its $40,000 goal with over 2,000 backers pledged to the project. You can check out their Kickstarter here, and the video of their product below.
E-One Exemplifies the Sort of D.C.-Based Company We Need to Rally Around
Suffice to say that E-One is providing an incredibly unique product that has clearly galvanized enough backers online to meet their goal eight fold, but what is really stirring about the company is that they have largely gone under the radar in D.C. I learned about them from a tip-off from a friend, and reached out to get to better acquainted with their product and team. If it weren’t for that tip I would have probably never encountered this innovative team and their brilliant watch.
With that said, I encourage everybody in the D.C. area to celebrate more people like Hyungsoo and his team because they are the type of company that truly encapsulate and reflect the carefully balanced blend of success while simultaneously providing an altruistic solution to a largely unknown problem.
Keep an eye on these guys, they’re going to be big.