Write your name in buildings with this new word processor
Have you ever flown above a city and imagined that the tangle below you was a concrete alphabet soup? No? Well, now you will, thanks to a new word processor that makes letters out of real man-made structures.
Aerial Bold Typewriter uses images of buildings, roads and other structures that resemble the letters of the alphabet, sourced from satellite images of locations across the globe.
The typeface is the result of a collaboration between computational designer Benedikt Groß and geographer Joey Lee. The pair started the project by trawling through the satellite images themselves, but launched a Kickstarter campaign in October 2014 to help develop image-processing algorithms to find shapes resembling letters across the entire Earth.
The results are available for free online, over at the
The results are available for free online, over at theAerial Bold Project website. For now, there are four fonts available. The first is Aerial Bold Satellite, which pulls images from across the globe. Impressively, it also lets users single out a specific location, such as London, so that letters are only drawn from that area.
The other three fonts are Aerial Bold Buildings, Suburbia and Provence, which source images from buildings, suburbs and the French countryside respectively. While the first font plonks the aerial pictures on your screen, the others turn the satellite images into vector graphics to make them easier to read.
It’s worth turning up the volume to listen to the unique typing sounds for each font – the strange synth taps make it feel like you’re an alien overlord composing a novel with the face of civilisation.
While the typeface is fun to play around with, Groß and Lee point towards large aims in their original Kickstarter pitch. “It is our intention to offer non-domain experts (e.g. artists, designers, citizen scientists, etc.) a set of tools to source their own datasets and inspire people from all backgrounds to explore geographic data. The importance in kickstarting Aerial Bold is to showcase the creative and technical process of ‘making your own data’.”
So go ahead, map a story.