News / Product Design

Spector device detects typeface, font size and colour from a printed page


Fiona O’Leary: Spector. Photography: Darek Fortas

RCA Design Products graduate Fiona O’Leary has made a handheld device that allows designers to scan printed material and detect the typeface, font size and exact colour. Spector has an integrated camera that takes a photo of the printed page and matches the font to a data base, or the colour to a specific CYMK, RGB or Pantone reference, and displays the information on Spector software.

It connects to the computer via Bluebooth and works as an Indesign plugin, allowing the user to scan a printed sample and then change type on screen to match it, and load the colour into the swatch palette. It does this instantly at the click of the device’s button.

At the moment Spector can only detect one typeface at a time, but several colours, and it works better if the scan has a varied sample of characters to analyse. It can store up to 20 images, so for example 10 fonts and 10 colours at the same time. Once it matches a font it can also calculate the leading and kerning.

“As designers we always collect lots of nice samples of inspiration and I wanted to utilise these samples,” says Fiona. “I see this as a tool for typesetting using books and posters and signage as your source material. It’s a way to better understand typography and make typesetting more transparent by communicating invisible factors such as size, kerning and leading.”

It’s a working prototype but Fiona is looking for funding while further developing the product, and hopes to Kickstart the project in the next year or so, possibly in conjunction with a type specimen book.

Fiona also worked on Humane Engineering’s Cove app, which we covered here.


Fiona O’Leary: Spector. Photography: Darek Fortas


Fiona O’Leary: Spector. Photography: Darek Fortas


Fiona O’Leary: Spector. Photography: Darek Fortas