If you live life without being able to see, at least with some currencies, you know that all banknotes feel the same, with no way to independently tell their denominations. This is where currency identification apps can come in handy, allowing you to place a banknote underneath your iOS device’s camera and hear the denomination spoken aloud or displayed onscreen. In this article, I will give an overview of several currency identifiers, but keep in mind I am only scratching the surface; I’m sure there are other apps and use cases that I do not know about.
Also, as the app market is constantly evolving, it is difficult to say with any kind of certainty how well this information will age going forward. That said, I’ll do my best to keep it updated and as future proof as possible.
One app that has made quite a name for itself in the blind and low vision community in recent years is Seeing AI. This app leverages robust artificial intelligence capabilities to identify short text, documents, product barcodes, currency, and more. As this app packs a number of functions into an easy to use interface, some may prefer it over other, more narrowly focused assistive apps.
As it is a research project by Microsoft, the app is free to download and use, but keep in mind that as its functionality is cloud-dependent, an Internet connection is required so that data can be sent to Microsoft’s servers for processing. Also, the need for a constant Internet connection means that performance may be slower than you might experience in apps that employ on-device processing. In practice, your results will likely vary based on your device’s camera, connection speed, and other factors.
As of the time of this writing, Seeing AI supports identification of the following currencies:
- Brazilian Real
- British Pound
- Canadian Dollar
- Indian Rupee
- Japanese Yen
- Turkish Lira
- US Dollar
Another app that allows you to recognize the denominations of banknotes is Cash Reader, available either as a free download to identify smaller denominations, or as an in-app purchase to identify all denominations of a particular currency. Over 100 currencies around the world are supported, with a full list in the app and on the developer’s website.
In contrast to Seeing AI, Cash Reader is a standalone currency identifier as opposed to an all-in-one object recognition solution. In addition, as all processing is done on-device, an Internet connection is not required to use the app, making it potentially faster than cloud-dependent apps like Seeing AI.
For times you need to recognize banknotes but rather not have their denominations spoken aloud, there is an option to have them conveyed by a series of vibrations. For example, a US$ 1 banknote would be conveyed by a single vibration, a 5 would be conveyed by two vibrations, a 10 would be conveyed by three, etc.
If the US Dollar is your primary currency, another app to potentially look at is EyeNote. While it only recognizes the US Dollar and does not appear to be as frequently updated as other apps in this category, it is completely free and generally reliable.
One interesting feature of this app is the ability to recognize the orientation of a particular banknote, whether the front or back side is facing up. This may be useful, for example, for inserting cash into ATMs and vending machines, as those devices may only accept banknotes facing a certain way.
What do you think? If you’ve used any of these apps or know of others you’ve had success with, I’d be interested to know. Sound off in the comments with any thoughts you have about this article.