Hand Drawn

A Kinect hack to build a collaborative typeface

Hand Drawn is an internal Moving Brands project, devised as a response to the creation of an ad-hoc, community-driven SDK for Microsoft’s Kinect camera. It is our contribution to a fledgling scene of hacks, a discussion point and an early testbed for what works and what fails within the realm of gestural interfaces.

Approach

The software depends heavily on two freely available libraries; Daniel Shiffman’s Kinect for Processing library, and toxiclibs, an extensive set of libraries for 3D image creation and manipulation, created and maintained by Karsten Schmidt. By connecting these two, we were able to use the Kinect as a tool that captures, interprets, and saves gestures — you can download the core of the code here.

We have created a .ttf font file, as well as physical forms of the typeface, moving the project from a gestural interactive experience into a tangible creation.

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Results

The Hand Drawn software functions as a tool for building a collaborative typeface, dynamically capturing a user’s gesture – a hand traced through the air – and adding it to a pool of data. A live video feed offers a frame to compose a character, while a second viewport shows the 3-dimensional ‘volume’ of the last captured character.

Characters can be cycled through, while a virtual typesetter’s tray highlights both progress and popularity as it fills up with the composite letterforms. Over time, and as more and more marks are captured by it’s users, the typeface evolves, incorporating both flaws and common traits from those rolling up their sleeves and using Hand Drawn.

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