“Telling time shouldn’t require sight.” –Hyungsoo Kim
Well before the company Eone was started, or founder and CEO Mr. Hyungsoo Kim was cogitating sensible and mindful products, he was sitting in a classroom at MIT. It didn’t take long for Kim to notice the person sitting next to him was visually impaired and that their watch was talking. “I realized that all watches and clocks had to be seen or you had to hear them,” said Kim. “A watch implies that you have to watch it, I didn’t want that. Telling time shouldn’t require sight. I wanted to create a sightless timepiece.”
Many of the complaints from the clients Kim worked with were reiterated in the designing process. This historic penumbra, that time required sight or sound, affected all forms of timepieces from church bells to digital wristwatches. Current watches for the visually impaired weren’t working. In a crowded subway, on a busy street, in a quiet movie theater or at dinner, they were either audibly disruptive or couldn’t be heard at all. Having a watch “talk” was a visionless paradox. This furthered Kim’s ardent belief that there was a better way to design a watch.
The first sightless timepiece was created by Kim using two ball bearings, one indicating minutes (top) and one indicating hours (side) and a magnet, which is too tiny to interfere with other magnetic properties that are used in normal daily life.
“Designing this timepiece didn’t follow the normal creating process. Most ideas are drawn, sketched, or digitally designed first, but a blind person can’t see these two-dimensional mockups or have them justified through verbal descriptions, they couldn’t make suggestions, so we had to design actual prototypes first to get their feedback and make the product universal. It takes a very long time working this way,” said Kim. “Still, that was just solving the mechanics of the sightless timepiece.”
Kim wanted to create something that wasn’t just functional but beautiful. A timepiece for everyone begetting the name of his company –Eone. “People have a misconception that because someone is blind, they don’t care what something looks like. This isn’t true. Creating something shouldn’t be just about focusing on the disabilities of someone.”
The timepiece Kim was sagaciously creating needed to take into consideration more than just solving a practical problem; it needed to solve a problem in fashion. “I brought in designers, artists, graphic designers, textile workers,” said Kim. “We created the first fashion wristwatch that doesn’t require vision.” The titanium-made timepiece is more durable and lighter, and titanium has no magnetic traction. The Bradley Timepiece is like no other in the world. It allows the wearer the ability to touch time.
“Now that we had the functional timepiece and an artistically pleasing design, we needed someone to represent the product,” said Kim. Eone needed a face to the watch and they wanted someone who truly represents what they were trying to accomplish. Kim came across Bradley Snyder, an ex-naval officer who was blinded in an explosion while on tour in Afghanistan in 2011. One year to the day later, he won a gold medal in swimming at the 2012 Paralympics in London.
“I'M GOING TO SHOW PEOPLE THAT
I'M NOT GOING TO LET THIS BEAT ME.
I'M NOT GOING TO LET BLINDNESS
BUILD A BRICK WALL AROUND ME.
I AM GOING TO FIND A WAY FORWARD.”
— BRAD SNYDER
Bradley was the ideal representative because he makes day to day life possible without drawing attention to his disability. The Bradley Timepiece, while drawing oglers by its aesthetically pleasing appeal, offers the wearer a unique and discrete way of telling time whether on a crowded street, in a business meeting, luncheon with friends, or a dark theater. The Bradley Timepiece tells the story of overcoming adversity, it’s not just another product; “it’s a product that bridges the gap,” said Kim.
The Bradley Timepiece was one of the final nominees for design of the year by Design Museum in London. It was added to the permanent collection in the British Museum. It recently received the product design of the year award by Red Dot and the Eone team will be flying to Germany to receive it.
Eone has released a new model of the Bradley Timepiece –The Bradley Compass. The new model is available in three different color options: graphite (dark blue), iris (purple red) and gold (gold). The case materials are made out of stainless steel and aluminum, instead of titanium.
Besides coming out with new models of the Bradley Timepiece, Eone is just in the beginning stages of their line. “By 2020 we have an aggressive goal of introducing five different products, five different stories. The second of which will be released later this year,” said Kim.
This time Eone will be working with Christine Hà to create a new product that will push the boundaries of aesthetic design and functionality, once again revolutionizing the way we tell time. Christine Hà is an American chef and writer from Houston, Texas. She was the first blind contestant on Gordon Ramsay’s MasterChef on FOX and the winner of its third season in 2012. Eone has worked with her to create the first sightless desk clock that will feature an alarm setting.
“With the core design elements for the mechanics of the sightless timepieces created, Eone can now focus even more on the aesthetics of our creations.” The Christine Hà desk clock will be made out of stainless steel and aluminum, like the new Bradley Compass, which will allow for more colors and shapes and a feel that will be very pleasing to the touch.
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Eone works closely with the National Federation of the Blind and The Seeing Eye, which is the oldest seeing eye dog school in the U.S. Eone gives 20-30% of the profits to The Seeing Eye training center.
With people like Hyungsoo Kim creating products that take into consideration all consumers, and businesses like Sportique, whose passion is finding products globally that exhibit beauty, thoughtful product design, and unique purpose, together they will hold Helen Keller’s aphorism true: “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”