An “Eyedropper” Tool For the Physical World

When designing print for screens, visual inspiration can strike at any moment. Colors, font sizes, and typefaces come in infinite combinations and varieties but rarely can a single person view one such sample and know what they’re looking at – much less save it for later use. This is exactly what the working prototypes of Spector are tackling and it’s looking to become one the most useful tools for online design.

Tech Eyedropper

Spector captures typefaces and colors in the real world and then transfers them directly to your computer. Described by Fiona O’Leary, Spector’s creator, as “an eyedropper for the physical world”, many think of it as Shazam for colors and fonts. To use it, place Spector over a piece of media and depress the button on top. A camera inside will photograph the sample and an algorithm translates the image into information about the shapes and color values of the typeface. Spector beams that information to a database which IDs the sample and if your computer is nearby, a custom plugin will port the information to InDesign.

Born out of personal frustration, Spector seeks to give a sense of scale, typesetting, and color on a much more accurate level when translating from screens to pages and vice versa. O’Leary continues, “If you’re going to design for print on screen, you should start with print.” The biggest major drawback however, is its potential for facilitating theft. Typeface piracy is rampant in the online world and incredibly difficult to contain and enforce intellectual property laws pertaining to it. It’s a recognized setback but the majority of test users have seen Spector as an educational tool. The best case scenario? Designers would use Spector first and foremost as a tool for discovery. Plagiarism and purchasing of typeface licenses will most likely be handled through InDesign once the product moves to furthers stages of production.

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Cyrus is currently getting his bachelors degree in computer programing. As a part time job, Cryus writes contributing articles and content for He is an avid swimmer, loves Minecraft and prefers to program in Python.

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