Spector – the font tool everyone is talking about

The Shazam for fonts is what we are calling Spector at This neat handheld tool captures typeface samples with its tiny camera and transfers them to an online archive to detect the font type through a clever algorithm. But that’s not it; it can then change on-screen text in InDesign to match the discovered font.

Designer Fiona O’Leary created the Spector prototype for her graduation project at the Royal College of Art after becoming frustrated with designing for print on screen, as Fiona says it never looks the same on the screen and on the finalised print:

 “You have no idea of the scale of the page or typography, and colours often visualise differently too. I came up with the idea that if you are going to design for print on screen, why not start with print material? And why not make it interactive? As designers we always collect lots of nice samples of inspiration and I wanted to utilise these samples. I wanted to create a tool that was reminiscent of the tools that graphic designers used to use before computers.” 

Currently Spector isn’t available to buy as it is a prototype, and there are of course piracy and copyright implications with it if it were to be commercialised, but we can’t stop admiring its genius. And as Fiona suggests, Spector could be incredibly useful in the education of typography: 

“I see this tool as more of a way of seeing how to understand typography and making typesetting more transparent by communicating invisible factors such as size, kerning and leading. This helps educate the user about typography. I also see it as a way of taking the guessing game out of typesetting and blending the physical and digital environments for a graphic designer so when it comes to printing your book or page from Adobe InDesign, you already know what it’s going to look like because you took it from a piece of printed material already. I see it as a useful tool for students who are just starting out as a graphic designer.”

Great work Fiona!

Visit Fiona's website:



13 Jul 2016 11:38
this is amazing!
09 Mar 2017 08:53
very clever, what a useful tool

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