Media Moves

Dear tech pubs, calm yourself down about this gadget

July 11, 2016

Posted by Chris Roush

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 9.41.08 AMTech journalist Stephen Beale is critical of how some business media have covered a hand-held font-scanning gadget developed by a grad student in England.

Beale writes, “This past week, several media outlets told us about a miraculous gizmo that promises salvation for graphic designers. ‘Handheld Tool Is Like Shazam for Fonts and OMG We Need It!’ gushed Wired. Mashable picked up the Wired story and proclaimed that ‘this magical gadget can scan text and tell you what the font is.’ Fast Company described it as ‘The Ultimate Font Finder.’ Echoing Wired, Engadget reported that the ‘handheld device identifies typefaces and hues like Shazam does for songs.’

“They’re all referring to Spector, a handheld scanner developed by Royal College of Art grad student Fiona O’Leary. The idea is compelling: You hold the gadget over a printed page and press a button. It then transmits information about the fonts and colors to InDesign or (presumably) any other desktop software.

“It appears to be an impressive student project. But is it truly the ‘Ultimate Font Finder’ or a ‘Shazam for fonts’? I don’t think so, and the breathless hype is making these otherwise respected media outlets look ridiculous.

Read more here. Beale notes that the gadget can identify seven out of more than 300,000 fonts.

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