Have you ever wondered what our handwriting would look like if everyone had the same penmanship? Would the “E” have 90-degree angles or would it look like a backwards “3”? Would the “J” have a hat? Would the “W” be angled or rounded? The folks over at BIC are taking on all of these questions and more with their Universal Typeface Experiment.
It all started with BIC’s best-seller, the Cristal ballpoint pen, which they like to call the universal pen. If there’s a universal pen, they thought, what would a universal typeface look like? Curiosity lead to the development of BIC’s microsite in which participants can enter their handwriting and an algorithm calculates the average of lines and loops, creating an always-evolving font. Pretty cool, eh?
Here’s how it works. Once you enter the site and click “contribute” on the right-hand side, you are brought to a screen that gives you two-step instructions on how to connect to a touchscreen device (you can also opt to use your trackpad or mouse). The site will then prompt you to write each letter in its own white box.
Once your ABCs are all written out, the site compares your handwriting to all previous participants’. Each one of your handwritten letters will trace over the universal letters and it will calculate how short, tall, narrow or wide your handwriting is compared to the average.
After you contribute, you’ve got to check out the interactive exploration section. Here, you can explore the universal typeface and see the entries of other participants. Each letter shows layer upon layer of contributions stacked on top of each other. When you hover over each fine line, you can see the writer’s name, country and the date they participated. You can also organize the entries by age group, gender, country, handedness and even what industry they’re in. So far, participants from 29 countries have contributed. And even though the U.S. is already covered, we still think you should head over there and give it a go.
Have you contributed to the Universal Typeface Experiment yet? Let us know your thoughts on a universal font in the comments!