It may never occur to those with normal vision that the distinct dimensions of each euro banknote acts as helpful tactile cues for those with vision impairments, while the identical dimensions of each denomination of dollar bills can be a headache for that segment of the population. A small device called the iBill aims to resolve this issue for visually impaired Americans.
The iBill is a compact plastic device that has a slot where a corner of a bill can be inserted. Once the user presses one of the buttons located at the top and bottom of the device, a blip sounds and a robotic female voice announces the denomination (“one,” “two,” “five,” etc.) of the inserted bill. A tone mode is also available.
The device, which can be attached to a key chain or lanyard, also has an earphone jack if the user wants more privacy. Deaf-blind users can also choose a vibration mode to learn how much a bill is worth.
The iBill can last for more than a year on one AAA battery, which can be replaced by the user. Orbit Research, the creator of the device, claims better than 99.9 percent accuracy and says the iBill can be upgraded to recognize new banknote designs in the future. However, the device can’t recognize counterfeit bills.
Orbit Research will sell the iBill for $119 with free shipping on online orders. The iBill will also be the first currency reader sold by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which will begin shipping the device on Jan. 2.