Shazam for art pieces, Shazam for music and now Shazam for fonts. Or not actually Shazam: Spactor it’s called.
Fiona O’Leary came up with this idea. For her graduation she developed Spector. Spector captures colors and fonts from the real world and transfers them directly into indesign.
So your favorite flowers of the font from the newspaper can just appear on your computer any time.
For now, it’s a smart, charming idea that creates an eminently practical bridge between physical and digital media—which is exactly why it caught our eye. Fiona is now commercializing it but she is not in a rush.
Spector was born out of personal frustration. “When you design for print on screen, it never looks like how it’s going to print,” says O’Leary, who has a background in graphic design. It’s hard to get a sense of scale, typesetting can be deceiving, and color values don’t always translate from screen to page. “If you’re going to design for print on screen you should start with print,” she says.
Spector currently recognizes seven typefaces that it accesses through a font database, including Apercu, Bureau Grot, Canela, and Founders Grotesk, and O’Leary is working to integrate it with a larger font database. The tool can also translate type size (up to 48 point), kerning and leading, by analyzing the white space between the lines and letters.
The one major drawback to Spector, if it ever gets made, is its potential for facilitating theft. Typeface piracy is a surprisingly big, and messy, problem, and a device like Spector would probably complicate things further. Just one example: Spector would certainly make it easier to identify typefaces from the real world, but those typefaces could still require a paid license to own or use.
O’Leary recognizes piracy as a potential setback for Spector, though she notes that there’s always been an element of creative poaching in graphic design. (She’s not wrong; the line dividing plagiarism from inspiration is notoriously vague, across all fields of design.) Plus, she adds, in testing, most people have used Spector as an educational tool. Best case scenario, she says, designers would use Spector first and foremost as a tool for discovery. And who can argue with making discovery easier?