BIC's online experiment is crowdsourcing the world’s handwriting into a single Universal Typeface.
BIC has started crowdsourcing digital handwriting contributions and data from all over the world in order to combine them into a single Roman typeface. The “Universal Typeface” experiment is a celebration of the BIC Cristal ballpoint, of which more than 100 billion have been produced since 1950.
Conceived by DDB Tribal Düsseldorf and produced by creative digital production company MediaMonks, the Universal Typeface Experiment by BIC is the first time anyone has attempted to combine penmanship contributions and demographical data from all over the world into a single typeface or font.
The challenge of the campaign was to immortalise the handwriting of Cristal ballpoint users in a digital font that could be shared by everyone – evolving continuously as new data is collected.
On the digital platform, users can submit their handwriting using Mobile Connect technology. This allows them to write in an intuitive and natural way on their smartphone or tablet touchscreen, whilst displaying their contributions on their larger desktops.
“Our handwriting is one of our most personal possessions,” says Jan Propach, Creative Director, DDB Tribal Düsseldorf.
“With BIC having produced one of the most universal writing tools and billions of people using their product, the primary question was: what then, would the world’s universal handwriting look like? This experiment allows us to explore that and celebrate the pen we all know and use.”
The website also includes a versatile exploration section, which allows users to compare their own contribution to the universal average. Users can explore statistical differences and similarities between their own contribution and the average contribution of different demographics.
The data is grouped according to age, gender, industry of employment and other characteristics. This was made possible thanks to a unique algorithm created to merge all the input and aggregate a result: the Universal Typeface.
“In order to determine the Universal Typeface that best represents all submissions, and for the typeface to be legible, MediaMonks developed an elaborate algorithm that underpins the digital experiment,” explains Joris Pol, International Project Director, MediaMonks.
“The opportunity for our design and development teams to unify creativity and technology within this project by bridging the analogue and digital writing worlds has been a true honour.”
In August, the first version of the Universal Typeface will be downloadable and can be used like any other font. You can contribute to the experiment here.
26 June 2014
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