It was hard to justify the cost of switching from an old flip phone to a smartphone a few years ago.
Once I did, the technology in that small device made so many things easier. With the Google Maps app, I can drive just about anywhere and still find my way home. I can do my banking from my car, too, if I need to.
So I was excited to learn about VelaSense, an app that aims to offer more independence and access to people who are blind or living with impaired vision. That includes more than 14 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
VelaSense uses Android smartphone cameras to read store bar codes that identify products. At checkout, the app can tell you whether the bill in your hand is a $10 or a $20.
The app can read books and newspapers, identify colors in your wardrobe and access bus schedules. VelaSense also assists with finding addresses, recognizing objects and navigating around things.
There are also features for access to social media. When you’re the person who can’t see well enough to join the conversation, that access could go a long way toward helping people of all ages connect with others in their circles.
That was the idea when Visus Technology decided to create software for people with no sight or limited vision.
VelaSense is available exclusively to Verizon customers for three years, priced at $14.99 a month, but you can try it free for 30 days. It runs on the Jelly Bean 4.3 operating system and newer versions.