Graduate designs pocket-sized prototype font detector

Posted on by Guy Cookson

Wow – I want one of these. As featured in Dezeen, Royal College of Art graduate Fiona O’Leary has designed a prototype gadget she calls Spector that can identify the font used in printed materials:

O’Leary, who graduated from the college’s Design Products masters course, created the gadget to aid print-based graphic designers working on computers.

The device works as an InDesign plugin and features a small camera on its underside that takes a picture of the font once the ‘start’ button is pressed. The device then matches the picture to a database of font samples collected by O’Leary.

“I came up this idea from my frustration with designing for print on screen – it never looks like it does on screen as it does in the finalised print,” she said. “You have no idea of scale of the page or typography and colours often visualise differently too.”

Spector can identify the spacing between characters, known in graphic design as kerning, and the amount of blank space between lines of text, known as leading.

It can also detect a colour’s RGB and CMYK values to help designers recreate a specific hue.

“I see this tool as more of a way of seeing how to understand typography and making typesetting more transparent by communicating invisible factors such as size, kerning and leading,” O’Leary said. “This helps educate the user about typography.”

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