Print 8 comment(s) - last by fake01.. on Mar 11 at 7:40 AM

Austin Seraphin, a blind iPhone user, uses an app called Color Identifier to help him "see" colors around him. He has described the iPhone as "the greatest thing to happen to the blind for a very long time, possibly ever."  (Source:

LookTel Money Reader  (Source:
The new app utilizes the iPhone's camera to identify denominations of U.S. currency

A new iPhone app could help the visually impaired recognize the difference between denominations of U.S. currency. 

Walking up to a store register and paying for something with cash can be extremely difficult for the millions of blind people residing in the United States. With dollar bills being the same shape and size, no matter the amount, it's hard for the visually impaired to distinguish between a $1 bill, $10 bills or $100 bill. Often, a blind person will set up methods of recognizing the difference between each denomination by folding them into separate shapes and sizes, but now, an iPhone app may make life much easier than that.

The new application is the LookTel Money Reader, and it is able to distinguish the difference between a $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bill. According to LookTel, which is made by Ipplex, the new app does not require an internet connection and can read the denomination in real-time. 

The app utilizes the iPhone's camera as a way of reading the denomination of the bill. Once a user has waved the dollar bill in front of the iPhone's camera, it will announce the value of that bill aloud. 

While this new app could prove to be useful for the visually impaired, it isn't the first app to do so. For instance, Austin Seraphin, a blind U.S. citizen, has said that the iPhone has changed his life forever. In his blog, he has noted how accessible the iPhone is for blind people, and even called Apple's mobile device "the greatest thing to happen to the blind for a very long time, possibly ever."

According to Seraphin, Apple's VoiceOver feature is the most helpful characteristic of the iPhone. It reads messages and other apps like stocks and weather aloud, allowing the visually impaired to control and browse the iPhone's touch screen. 

In addition, a color-picking app called Color Identifier allows Seraphin to aim the iPhone's camera in a certain direction, and it describes the colors around him. 

Seraphin has admitted that some apps are not as accessible as others, such as iTunes, but the apps and features that do allow him to maneuver the device are an excellent start that helps to make life easier, and the new LookTel Money Reader is another addition to the growing number of apps helping to make the iPhone more accessible to the visually impaired. 

The LookTel Money Reader is available for $2 on the Apple iOS platform. LookTel noted that the Money Reader "will soon be available on other platforms."

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By BigToque on 3/10/2011 11:05:39 AM , Rating: 2
As a Canadian I don't often come into contact with American paper currency. Do the bills not a tactile feature on them?

I know the Canadian bills use a system similar to braile.

RE: Braile?
By VahnTitrio on 3/10/2011 11:09:54 AM , Rating: 5
There is absolutely no texture to US currency at all, except that they are always crumpled and difficult to get a vending machine to accept.

RE: Braile?
By spamreader1 on 3/10/2011 1:57:04 PM , Rating: 2
Vote for a 6 on this one cause it's so true.

RE: Braile?
By Samus on 3/10/2011 1:57:05 PM , Rating: 2
i lol'd

RE: Braile?
By fake01 on 3/11/2011 7:40:53 AM , Rating: 2
except that they are always crumpled

Perhaps the US need to move to plastic notes like here in Australia and other countries. Hard to crumple, water proof and difficult to forge.

and difficult to get a vending machine to accept.

I have never had a vending machine reject my money. However I know many people who have used vending machines suck up their notes and not reject it. I swear it's a scheme to get more money out of us.

By VahnTitrio on 3/10/2011 11:07:45 AM , Rating: 3
Wouldn't the blind heavily favor the tactile feedback of non-touch screen phones? I suppose you could memorize the phone layout and use a screen protector with some texture, but discrete buttons to me seem like the more logical choice.

RE: Question?
By kattanna on 3/10/2011 12:01:54 PM , Rating: 2
It reads messages and other apps like stocks and weather aloud, allowing the visually impaired to control and browse the iPhone's touch screen

at first i would have thought so to, but i guess it actually talks back to the user if so set when touching things on the screen. which is pretty darn cool, if so.

RE: Question?
By morphologia on 3/10/2011 3:14:52 PM , Rating: 2
I'm thinking this is more for people who are almost blind than for people who are completely blind.

Even in the Apple description of the feature ( it mentions the need to turn the feature on first, which will require help if you have no visuo-spatial feedback whatsoever. And with Apple's penchant for resetting various settings and features after a software update (first-hand experience on this, a MacBook), that would get frustrating for someone who can't even see the general shape of the screen.

Just so you know, I say this with extensive knowledge of the needs and habits of the blind. Most totally blind people I've known would much rather have buttons, since they could navigate features much more quickly and easily.

I'm not saying this isn't a good thing, just that it's far from ideal as a tool for the blind. This is not a reason for a blind person to get an iPhone, especially with currency readers accessible and relatively affordable.

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