MIT and Monotype launch major research into design and typography for the “quick glance” society

20 January 2017

Monotype has joined MIT AgeLab’s initiative researching how to improve the design and typography of interfaces we read with a “quick glance”. According to MIT, we read information on smartphones, wearable tech, car displays and adverts in short bursts hundreds of times a day. The aim of the initiative, named the Clear Information Presentation Research Consortium (Clear-IP), is to research the legibility and design of these pieces of information and how they can be readdressed for clarity, usability and safety.

The study will investigate topics such as the influence of typeface style, weight, width and line spacing, as well as polarity and ambient light, and their effect on legibility.

“The glance is the new currency of the age and we need to know how to design for it,” says Nadine Chahine, type director and legibility expert at Monotype. “When it comes to the design of interfaces for reading in quick glances, we need to know how to balance all of these factors in order to present clear information to the reader.”

Google has also joined the consortium, and will help to broaden the scope of the research. Clear-IP is targeting members from all sorts of industries including design, technology, drug makers, financial services providers and automobile manufacturers, among others.

According to MIT and Monotype there is a lack of research to guide design decisions on how information is read and retained in glances. Clear-IP aims to use data and research to guide decisions on the best practice for typography and graphic design in these scenarios.

“We’ve found that certain type styles have an impact on how fast people can read information under specific conditions,” says Bryan Reimer, research scientist at MIT AgeLab. “However, this work is only the beginning in learning how type, design, technology, environmental and human factors play into glance-based reading. With Clear-IP, we now have an organization dedicated to isolating and understanding the tradeoffs surrounding the questions of modern typographic design and information presentation.”

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Jenny Brewer

After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, overseeing the website’s daily editorial output.

Jenny is currently on maternity leave.

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