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03-10-2011

App Helps Those with Poor Vision Identify Money

by: Nellie Day
App Helps Those with Poor Vision Identify Money
Screen shot of the LookTel Money Reader in action
Seniors who are legally blind or suffer from eyesight degeneration sometimes need a little help when choosing the right item. For example, they may not know if they have chosen their red dress or the black one if the two are similarly styled and made from the same material. It may also be difficult to tell if they’ve grabbed the toothpaste or the denture cream — two more items that are often the same size and shape. Many seniors with little to no vision combat this problem by identifying subtle nuances in  nearly identical products. Others distinguish the items by tying a ribbon around one of them or making some other type of distinct marking. This may work for most items, but what if the item in question is a publicly traded commodity? And what if similar items don’t vary in weight, size, shape or texture? Sadly, this is the case with American currency. Though most other countries print their denominations in different sizes to make it easier on the blind, America has only recently implemented such a system. Until all the old currency is cycled out , however, Ipplex has created the LookTel Money Reader app. This iPhone app can identify bills of any denomination up to $100 in real time. Seniors simply need to wave the bill in front of the iPhone and its camera will read its value aloud. While this may seem like an extremely specific application, its uses could be endless. This type of technology could one day allow seniors to hold any item up to their phones for identification. It could afford seniors who have poor vision, but are otherwise in good health, more independence. An app like this could potentially identify items in a supermarket or cleaners under the sink. It could tell you when you’re holding a can of soup — and when you’re holding a can of dog food. There are many imaginative uses for this app in the future. For now, however, we’re happy it can solve a modern-day problem for those who can’t see very well. The LookTel Money Reader is available for $2 at the App Store. Ipplex says it will be debuting on other platforms shortly. Click below to how fast and accurate the app can identify different denominations.

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