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Posted on: 05/04/2003

Sixteenth Annual Excellence in Design Winners

Winner - Computers/Electronics/Communications

Bank Note Reader

Bank Note Reader (BNR) for the blind and visually impaired by Brytech, Inc., Ottawa, Ontario, and industrial design firm Design 1st, Ottawa.

The BNR is intended to assist blind and visually impaired people identify the value of currency, thus enabling them to have similar money-handling capabilities as sighted persons.

The design uses infrared characteristics of current and future Canadian banknotes to recognize and announce the denomination to the user via a spoken phrase, coded beeps or tactile vibration. The announcement language was set by the polarity of the 9-volt battery. This innovation avoids additional complexity to the device's controls. It automatically powers on when a banknote is inserted, announces the value, then powers off. The total operating time is less than a second.

By studying how blind persons handle banknotes and use their fine motor functions to see details, a compact design was created. Raised patterns assist in identifying the unit's controls and rubberized grip on the sides help secure the unit in the hand. The color scheme (grey and light blue) is discrete while providing a high contrast area to guide the banknote for the visually impaired.

Key project player from Brytech: John Davey, engineering manager. From Design 1st: Mike Brown, director.

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