Hi everyone, I'm Spiffy, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth. A product designed for all, is a great way for a business to advance the cause of inclusion. Today, I bring to you my conversation with Tim Fleschner, Co-Founder, EONE, about their inclusive masterpiece!
SPIFFY: It's so great to meet you, Tim! What challenge are you addressing?
TIM: Likewise, Spiffy! At Eone, we’re redefining good design as beautiful, functional, and inclusive. Our signature product is the Bradley timepiece: a sleek, modern watch you can both touch and see to tell time. The Bradley features raised hour markers that allow you to feel the time by touch. Two magnetized ball bearings travel around the watch face in separate, recessed tracks: one track around the center of the watch face’s surface for the minute, and one track around the outside edge of the watch face for the hour. Developed in collaboration with individuals who are blind, the Bradley is a better wristwatch for everyone.
Image Courtesy: Tim Fleschner
SPIFFY: Love it! What motivated you to do it?
TIM: It was my sister Kristin, who lost her vision while attending Harvard Law School, who motivated me to find opportunities to advance universal design. Eone and the Bradley timepiece originally stemmed from a class project that my co-founder worked on while he was a graduate student at MIT. A friend of his who is blind told him about the watches available to people with vision impairments, and how each of those options had obvious design flaws. We set out to create a watch that everyone, sighted and blind alike, can use and enjoy.
SPIFFY: Thanks for sharing this personal story with me. How is EONE advancing universal design to create a more equitable Planet Earth?
TIM: People with disabilities comprise the largest minority group – a group that cuts across every demographic and includes anyone who might become disabled at any point in life through injury, disease, or the process of aging. Do we value equal opportunities for people with disabilities? If so, it needs to be reflected in our design principles. We built Eone on the conviction that design shouldn’t discriminate or divide us up, but bring us together.
SPIFFY: This noble journey must have been tough though. Could you share an experience with our young readers when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from failure?
TIM: Before developing a timepiece with universal design, our goal was to make a braille watch specifically for people with vision impairments. We worked on the design for several months. Once we had a concept prototype, we arranged a meeting with a user group of 50+ individuals who were blind. We quickly learned that only 10-20% of the blind population can read Braille. We also learned the aesthetic – size, color, material – was equally important to the functionality. The user group expressed they didn’t want another device that was specifically designed for them, but rather a product that was made for everyone while also being inclusive of their needs. That failure was important in our journey to embracing universal design.
SPIFFY: Well said, Tim! I'll be sure to broadcast this far and wide in our universe! What is something you've unexpectedly learned from someone recently?
TIM: My sister uses a Seeing Eye dog to navigate the world. When her guide dog Zoe is not working, she is like any other puppy – playful and full of energy. But as soon as Zoe is wearing her harness, she is ready to work. I’ve learned from her that a “uniform” can put you in the right mindset to do deep work. I also learned from her that a uniform doesn’t necessarily have to be a business suit.