3. Media&Precedents

Emerging mobile media : Table Devices

Tablet devices generally have physically optimal screen sizes that are somewhere in between laptop and mobile phone.  The screens range from 7 to 9 inch display sizes, which is a natural size for reading e-books and accessing other various forms of information. With drop in cost of touch screens, most of devices now provide highly responsive touch screen interface at consumer friendly prices, making them more accessible to a larger audience. As tablet devices are designed as handheld objects, the screen is much more closer to users, and they can provide more immersive experiences.

• Optimal screen size (7-9inches) for reading, accessing information and carrying
• High resolution (480x800px or higher) : More information, clear and detailed graphics
• Highly responsive capacitive touch screen interface
• Suitable for reading, longer interaction in relaxed situation
• Provides more immersive experience for same tasks such as web browsing, photo viewing
• Ready for instant use (same characteristic as mobie phones)

These characteristics of tablet platform devices open new possibilities for displaying and viewing typefaces. High resolution and pixel density can facilitate displaying and viewing typefaces in great detail, and without pixilation. The proximity and touch-responsive interface can be used for manipulating typefaces inside a more immersive experience than can be had with a textbook. And, furthermore, when I imagine the future, where tablet devices are being used as text books, I recognized that there are great possibilities to be explore the digital tablet as an educational tool. Consequently, I chose the tablet platform for my project.

Precedents : Typography information / educational material

I started researching the currently available web sites related to typography education and information. Interestingly enough, it was not easy to find clearly organized web sites with coherent history of typography, or clear typographical specimen. I was able to find great articles and blog posts about some important history and design of typefaces, but there were no web sites where students, or designers, can learn or reference historically important typefaces and their characteristics. In fact, Wikipedia, surprisingly and impressively, was one of the most well organized web sites about these topics.

Precedents : Mobile Applications about Typography

In mobile media, there are many interesting Apps about typography. From typography games, drawings, custom font generators to specimen.

The Typography Manual
This iPhone application provides thorough information, from terminology, to typesetting to practical application in web design, with clear interface. It also provides useful utilities such as an Em Calculator. However, this application feels like condensed version of a typography textbook. And, while it would be useful for designers and students as mobile reference, the text intensive content on the small iPhone screen made the experience not easy to follow and absorb.

The Font Game

This is a Quiz type game application that allows you test yourself if you are a typography nerd. This is helpful for the students and designers to train their eyes and memorize important types.

Typo Base

This iPad application shows the iPad’s system fonts in various ways. It displays information about individual glyphs in font, and sample text in different sizes and layouts. However, it would be much more helpful if there were historical typefaces and context.

Among these apps, ‘Typo Base’ was the most impressive. I was inspired by its well-designed, clear interface, which enhanced the quality of software. Unfortunately, though, it is limited to system default fonts in iOS, and lacks information about historical context, educational content.

Educational mobile Apps

There are various educational mobile Apps available on the App Store. Topics include astronomy, chemistry and physics. Common, visual materials such as graphics and photos, are very important in learning these topics. Consequently, by leveraging high resolution display and touch interface, they provide immersive and interactive learning experiences that were not possible in paper-based media. The proximity and immediate responsiveness of the digital tablet also differentiate this platform from computers as an exceptional educational tool. Touching simulated brain parts and molecular structures with one’s fingers is a totally different experience from clicking a mouse and keyboard. I couldn’t stop thinking about touching gorgeous typefaces.