This article originally appeared on VICE India
To usher in the new year on a high note, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) dropped an app to help the visually impaired identify different denominations of the Indian currency, especially the new notes that came out after demonetisation. The free app, called the Mobile Aided Note Identifier (MANI), was launched by RBI governor Shaktikanta Das. According to an RBI statement, this app can recognise the denominations of "Mahatma Gandhi Series and Mahatma Gandhi (New) Series" banknotes by scanning the "front or reverse side or part of the note including half folded notes at various holding angles and broad range of light conditions".
The app does this by scanning the note with the phone camera and then dictating what it is with audio options available in both Hindi and English. The idea is to aid visually impaired people in the process of earning and saving money without being duped by people who tend to take advantage in such situations.
Previously, the RBI has made several initiatives to make the Indian currency more accessible to blind people, such as intaglio printing, in which the notes are printed through ink incisions that are slightly more sunken, tactile marking which makes the print surface more dimensional, variable banknote size, large numerals, variable colour, monochromatic hues and patterns.
Another feature of this app is that it works offline as well and doesn’t require the internet once it is downloaded (probably for the best given our country’s affinity towards internet shutdowns). However, the RBI maintains that while this is meant to be a digital aid for someone who may not be able to see, it cannot authenticate or verify whether the note is real or counterfeit.
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