Dynamically generated fonts

The University of Minnesota Design Institute has designed a dynamically generated font which varies depending on the weather outside—cute and curly for warm, angular and stark for cold, that sort of thing. You can see an example here. The New York Times reported on this as well, although this is just a link to their brain-dead pay-per-article page. It was also discussed in the Typographica Blog, with lots of comments.

It seems, though, that these fonts are not really dynamically generated—instead, there are discrete glyphs pre-designed for each cell of a 2- or 3-dimensional matrix.

This reminds me of my original doctoral thesis project at Tokyo University, the one Sakamura didn’t like. We were going to develop a mathematical representation of kanji, and based on that generate characters in real time, completely parameterizable. This is a much harder problem than it looks, and surprisingly little progress has been made on it. The only result of my research was an overview of all the work in related areas done over the previous decade or so. I’m going to put that up on-line sometime real soon now.

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