“This device is my No. 1 choice,” Cotton says of the iBill, especially when it comes to sorting money as fast as possible without fumbling around after a transaction at the grocery store or the gas station. The other choices include folding bills with different creases to tell them apart or firing up a smartphone app.
There are actually a bunch of apps that can do what iBill can, made convenient by the iPhone’s voiceover functions. In particular, EyeNote was also developed by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing to help identify bills. Another app, called LookTel, offers recognition for a multitude of countries’ currencies and VisionHunt distinguishes different kinds of bills and offers many tools for the blind.
But, “a lot of blind folks can’t afford an iPhone,” says Shawn Callaway, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Washington, D.C. Over 9 million people with vision loss in the U.S. have a family income of less than $35,000 according to the CDC’s 2012 National Health Interview Survey.
“People have been very appreciative that we are providing these to them at no charge,” says Len Olijar, deputy director at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. He believes it’s been received so well because it was already commercially available. “It wasn’t something new that was being developed specifically for [the Bureau],” he says. “It was tried and proven tech already in the marketplace.”
However, even though iBill can identify your money, it doesn’t mean it’ll tell you if it’s counterfeit or even how much you have. As Cotton says: “The rest of the mathematics is left up to you.”
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