Spector, a tool for capturing fonts and colours

Published on July 6, 2016


Fiona O’Leary is a designer that has a desire to design and invent products that improve people’s lives with meaningful use of technology. Designing physical digital tools that improve accessibility by communicating a transparent system of how they work and its purpose within that system.


For her graduation project at the Royal College of Art, Fiona developed a tool she calls Spector that captures typefaces and colors in the real world, and then transfers them directly to your computer.


Designing for print on screen is tricky and always requires clarity. There is very little sense of the scale of typography and colours often look different. This results in multiple printouts to test the different font sizes and colours. Spector is a tool that helps bridge the divide of designing on digital screen and the finalised print. It is a hand-held device allowing various print materials to become interactive. If designing for print, it is best to start with print.


Starting with print makes sense if you are going to design for print on screen. A lot of designers gather beautiful samples of typography and these are often used as inspiration. Looking at these samples, you don’t know the typeface and have to search through blogs to find out and often you have to guess what size the leading or kerning is. Imagine a tool that knew all of those things in one click of a button and changed your type on screen to typeset exactly the same making it a fluid process.

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Spector is a tool that helps bridge the gap between designing on digital screen and the finalised print. It is a hand-held device allowing various print materials to become interactive. Found a typeface you like? Wonder how big it is? Spector tells you straight away and changes the type live on screen. Wonder what shade of green that leaf is? It also detects colours and gives specific CYMK, RGB or Pantone values. Spector connects to the computer via Bluetooth and has a software interface that shows what colours and type you have collected. When you place Spector on a printed page of type or colour and click the button. This is then sent to the computer and then is communicated to a program such as InDesign, Pages and Word via plugin where there is live text present. The text is then changed to the printed font instantaneously while being able to view information about the font such as size, kerning, leading and where to buy it. Colours are loaded into the swatch palette.

Fiona O’Leary


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