IPhone app helps the blind identify US bank notes

IPhone app helps the blind identify US bank notes

US software vendor Ipplex has launched an iPhone application that helps blind and visually impaired Americans identify bank notes.

Available through Apple's App Store for $1.99, the LookTel Money Reader uses the iPhone camera to identify $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills before 'speaking' the value out loud.

The vendor says its app uses patented and proprietary object recognition technology to recognise any bill denomination in real time without the need to hold the camera still or take a photo.

American bank notes are all the same size, posing a problem for the visually impaired. In 2008, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit upheld a district court opinion finding that "the Treasury Department's failure to design and issue paper currency that is readily distinguishable to the visually impaired violates section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act". However, no changes to the currency have yet been made.

LookTel developed its technology under sponsorship from the National Institutes of Health and was awarded two research grants from the National Eye Institute and the National Institute of Aging.

Gary Kelly, executive director of Blind Wisdom and Ipplex advisor, says: "The LookTel Money Reader is fantastic because it reads money quickly at any location - even if there is no Internet connection available. One can use it and sort money as quickly as a sighted person can, and do this with total independence."

Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 15 March, 2011, 10:39Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

OMG, doesn't anyone see the obvious problem here?

Blind people do not use iPhone, or any other current touchscreen telephones, because they need to FEEL the buttons etc. what they are using. A capasitive touchscreen is a nightmare if you are visually impaired. This software is therefore totally crap.

I have heard that Nokia is actually working on a touchscreen that gives microelectronic responses to different touches, meaning that although the screen itself is totally flat, the minimally small shocks given when touching the screen make you FEEL like there are physical buttons and figures on the screen. I'd say that will make the day for the blind when this comes to production!

I wonder also why the US treasury seems to neglect the problems the dollar bills have: they are all the same size and colour and and have very little distinctive markings to tell the different nominations apart - even for the seeing. Looking at the euros on the other hand, they are all different sizes and colours and have even special raised printing to very easily distinguish the different denominations.