Japan to introduce smartphone app for people with vision disabilities to read currency

Asia-Pacific, April 29 2013

TOKYO: Japan will be releasing a free smartphone app that can read the denomination of money for people who are blind and low vision. The new app can help people with vision disabilities to identify Japanese currency. After taking a photograph of a bank note, the app will inform the holder via sound whether it is a ¥5,000 or a ¥10,000 bill.

Japanese Yen

The National Printing Bureau will develop the app for Apple’s iPhone, but one for Google’s Android smartphones is also under consideration, ministry and Bank of Japan officials said.

The Ministry of Finance (MOF) is targeting a December release of the app which will be able to read ¥1000, ¥2000, ¥5000 and ¥10000 notes. The Bank of Japan (BOJ) will also be releasing a new ¥5000 note by 2014 that has a hologram which will allow people who are blind and low vision to quickly identify the bill just by touching it. The MOF will also be trying to create a portable device that will help people who are blind and low vision identify bank notes.

Japan is not the only country that has created ways to help people who are blind and low vision deal with money. In US, LookTel Money Reader, iPhone users with vision disabilities can simply point the device’s camera at any bill, and wait for the app to recognize it. Once it does, the Money Reader will speak the value of the bill out loud.

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