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Monotype's Burlingame focuses on legibility for when you should read less


Monotype's Burlingame focuses on legibility for when you should read less

Liam Spradlin

Monotype on Monday revealed Burlingame, a typeface - designed by Carl Crossgrove - that started out as a tool for an unspecified game's brand identity, but was transformed into a typeface optimized for... in-car displays.

Evidently, Monotype has conducted extensive research into how people read in-car displays. Its findings reveal that optimal typefaces for car interfaces would have large counters, soaring x-heights, loose spacing, and simple, clear letter forms.

So in a way, Monotype was actually doing a study in legibility's importance in situations where the reader should not be reading - when they are speeding down a highway at 70mph in a 1000-pound machine, for instance.

Monotype's study, according to Gizmodo, was done in partnership with MIT. Participants glanced back and forth at a GPS unit while driving in a simulator, and eye-tracking tech was used to see how often they glanced, while their rate of error in reading the information was also measured.

Besides the above points, the study found that humanist sans serifs were easier to read than other styles, primarily due to their unambiguous letter forms (g does not look like a lowercase 9, for instance).

What would be more interesting - to me - than its use in cars would be more extensive studies in legibility in high-workload situations, where users have to focus almost entirely on another task while reading important information. The MIT study, which you can read here was not solely about typefaces - the real meat of the typeface findings regarded the performance differences between a square grotesque and humanist font.

At any rate, the story of a typeface jumping from video games to in-car displays with the backing of Monotype is an interesting one.