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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

LookTel Money Reader iPhone app helps the vision-impaired count their cash



OK, file this one under the "amazing" category. Have you ever wondered how the vision-impaired know they're getting the right change back when they pay with cash? Sure, there are methods for organizing the cash in their wallets they have so they know what they're giving out, but how do they know they're getting 10-dollar bills back instead of ones? Trust?

On the site, operated by a volunteer organization committed to the dream of having currency that all Americans can use safely and independently, there are stories from the vision-impaired people who have been victimized by dishonest people who take advantage of their disability. But now, armed with iPhone or iPod and the LookTel app, they will be victims no more.

The app does one thing and does it very well. Using patented and proprietary object recognition technology, it identifies US currency and speaks the denomination. It does this quickly and accurately without the need to see the bill's numbers. -1.pngYou can fold up a 5-dollar bill and only show it Abraham Lincoln's face and it still knows it's a five, so accurate placement of the bill in front of the camera is not needed. Apps like this just make my day!

This is a liberating app for the vision-impaired and it needs to be developed for other smartphone platforms as soon as possible. And actually, when you read the stories about how people have been victimized, we really should have devices with this technology installed at all businesses that accept cash. Not all vision-impaired people can afford smartphones and with this technology they could feel confident they're not being ripped off when shopping.

LookTel works with the iPhone 4, 3GS and 4th-generation iPods (and probably the iPad 2 now also). The developer notes that using it with iOS devices that don't have a flash, you need to be in good light for it to work properly.

[Last modified: Thursday, March 24, 2011 12:08pm]


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