Saturday, March 19, 2011

LookTel Two Dollar Money Reader

I downloaded the LookTel Money Reader from the Apple iTunes store. It cost two dollars! I'm used to free apps performing terribly, and this one is nearly free, so it has one particular quirk that you need to know about: it works. Here's a demo of theirs.

It recognizes U S currency and speaks the denomination. Point your iPhone's camera at any U S bill and the application will tell you the denomination in real-time. I tested it over and over on one, two, five, ten and twenty dollar bills front and back, folded in half front and back, and folded in quarters every which way. It didn't miss a beat. They say it works also on fifties and hundreds, but I haven't had one of those in my hands since forever so I'll just take their word for it.

This also works at an angle and while being very unsteady. No buttons, no switches; it just starts reading and shuts up when you turn it off or if it doesn't see a bill. Don't get carried away when you use this thing. The existing expensive dollar bill readers do a pretty good job of identifying fakes. This thing is happy with an oversized ink jet picture. This reader requires trust. Keep that in mind and you'll be tickled pink with this app. It's quick. It's three to four stars. It's a keeper.

The Note Teller 2 and the Franklin Bill Reader are priced at three hundred dollars each, the Magnifying Aids reader is two hundred dollars, and the iBill at MaxiAids is a hundred. This puppy sells for two dollars. Unfortunately it only works on the iPhone and iPod Touch, seems to be a real sucker for counterfeit bills, and I don't see any support for non-American bills. Enough negativity; I see a lot of good with this company.

It's produced by LookTel Products, who say they're working also on identifying packaged goods such as items in your kitchen or grocery store, organize money, quickly identify a medication bottle, easily find a CD in your music collection, and more, without accessing the barcode. This links directly to more features underway such as identifying landmarks and making a database of other images. "Remote sighted assistance" is planned to send your phone's camera images in real time to someone else. Wave the camera around and the sighted person you called can tell you where you are, what a sign says, which road to cross at the corner you're on, and so on. That's something that's already available but when this one comes out we'll do a comparison test.

Another tool they're getting ready is a server-based camera text reader. Use your phone to take a photo of any printed text and the system will read it back to you. I don't know if this will work anywhere near as well as other (very expensive) camera readers, but we'll see! Check them out at LookTel Products.

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