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BIC Universal: handwriting for all?

February 27th, 2015

The brand name Bic is almost synonymous with its most famous invention: the humble ballpoint pen. Everyone has at least one Bic, everyone uses Bics, and while there are several variations on a theme, the standard Bic ballpoint is pretty much universal.

So if there’s a universal pen, is there is a universal handwriting? That’s a question Bic is trying to answer with its innovative ‘Bic Universal’ project.

At www.theuniversaltypeface.com, Bic fans can contribute a sample of their own handwriting to an experiment that has so far involved people from over 160 different countries. Using a smartphone or tablet device, users can enter their own handwritten alphabet with their finger or stylus, as well as answer a few demographic questions.

Then, using a computer algorithm, the handwriting of thousands of users is amalgamated and averaged into what Bic calls “the first universal, crowdsourced typeface”.

A neat thing is that it’s not just one typeface – Bic Universal can be explored and changed by selecting particpants’ gender, left- or right-handedness, occupation, country, age and other parameters.

It’s a nice idea, and well executed, but I’m not sure what the point of it is. Wired Magazine suggests it could be an interesting website for keen graphologists – handwriting analysts who believe you can infer personality traits from written scrawl – but that’s a rather pseudoscientific hobby and not one that many people are into, I suppose.

It’s interesting to play around with the typeface, exploring the different categories of participant, but at the end of the day I couldn’t really think what I would do with the font. What do you think?


About the Author:

Although her primary niche is in scientific writing and editing, freelance writer Lisa Martin is also a creative type with an eye for design. She regularly works alongside graphic designers and as such has a keen interest in the development of logos and branding.

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This is a neat idea. It might also be interesting to see how time may influence our hand writing. If they do this experiment in 30 years for example, and compare.

by PavelFebruary 27, 2015