This App Identifies Dollar Bills for the Blind

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A new mobile app helps the visually impaired count dollar bills with the help of a smartphone camera.

IDEAL Currency Identifier can ID three generations of U.S. bills starting in 1993. Just hold the camera in front of the dollar bill and the camera captures it in a frame — without even pressing a button. The denomination is read aloud by a Siri-like voice within the app. At first glance, you might wonder how a visually impaired person could use this, but the frame is pretty large, so it’s easy to capture the dollar bill in the frame if you just wave your phone over it.

The app is available for Android devices and is compatible with Android 4.0 or higher.

Companies IDEAL Group, IQ Engines, and the Wireless Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center’s App Factory created the app in partnership with the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilative Services and the U.S. Treasury.

“Access to information, including that of paper currency, is critically important in order for blind people to fully participate in society,” Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), tells Mashable. “We appreciate the efforts of the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing to make currency more accessible to blind Americans through this application.”

Apps aren’t just for making your pictures look vintage. There are a number of apps for people who are blind. Other apps that can tell dollar bills apart include EyeNote [iTunes link], another free app. LookTel Money Reader ($9.99!) for iPhone [iTunes link] counts not only U.S. dollars, but also euros, British pounds, Canadian dollars and Australian dollars.

For the colorblind, there is Color Identifier ($1.99 in the App Store). An app called TalkingTag, for iOS, Android and Windows devices, might be useful for everyday tasks. Use TalkingTag’s QR code stickers to label things in your home, like items in your pantry or your various remote controls. Scan the item with your phone and the app will instantly say what the item is.

Check out this video of the IDEAL Currency Identifier in action and tell us what you think:

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, JTSorrell

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