Royal College of ArtUnited Kingdom


Production / Student


Fiona O'Leary


Spector is an idea that I came up with, from my frustration with designing for print on screen, it never looks like it does on screen as it does in the finalised print. You have no idea of scale of the page or typography and colours often visualise differently too. I came up with the idea if you are going to design for print on screen, why not start with print material? And why not make it interactive? As designers we always collect lots of nice samples of inspiration and I wanted to utilise these samples.

Spector software works as a Indesign plugin with a live feed of the camera. The hardware connects to the computer via bluetooth. The user presses the button on the device and takes a picture of the font with a macro camera and matches this picture to a font data base. It then changes live text in Adobe Indesign to that exact font, size, line and letter spacing.

Spector should win this category because it is about how we can design products and interactions that empower us. It is a tool that helps us understand typography in a better way and thus empower us by making typesetting more transparent by communicating invisible factors such as size, kerning and leading. It educates the user about typography. I also see it as a way of taking the guessing game out of typesetting so when it comes to printing your book or page from Adobe InDesign, you already know what its going to look like because you took it from a piece of printed material already. I see it as useful tool for students who are just starting out as a graphic designer.

Spector is a tool that is also about empowering machines, just as much as empowering the user. It is about designing products that are not apps but are products that can do a lot of the hard work for us like analysing and suggesting. Spector is a physical product to empower us by being a purpose-built standalone object that does its job well. I am keen on the idea of physicalising digital concepts like an eyedropper to help us with understanding the digital task better by creating a clearer mental model. It is well known that we understand objects better when there is tangible interface and they are physical rather than graphic interface, this is due to the fact that we can map interactions to outputs in a very clear way and understand quicker therefore remember it better.

“To use a shop analogy, there’s joy in pulling, say, a rabbet skew plane–something that does only one thing but does it well–down off of a shelf, and quickly achieving the precise result you desire.”


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