The folks at Bic are celebrating the fact that they have sold over 100 billion Bic Cristal pens with this universal typeface project, which is pretty cool. They are basically crowdsourcing what they are calling the Bic universal typeface and you can submit your own writing samples to contribute to the project too.
Once your handwriting sample is submitted, Bic runs an algorithm against it and all of the other samples that averages out all of the differences and creates the universal average of all of the submissions. As samples are submitted, the font changes, so its really an ever-changing font as long as people keep submitting their samples. Additionally, they collect some demographic information that allows you to look at differences in the samples based on categories such as gender, age, country, handedness, and industry. Those categories not only show the differences, but there is also a count there to show how many submissions came from each group in that category. For instance it was interesting to see that of all the submissions so far (434,537 in total) there are 47,599 from lefties and 386,518 from righties.
Here you can see the average letter “M” from left handed writers and right handed writers. Apparently the average lefty opts for a more narrow letter overall with more pointed peaks. Its pretty interesting to scroll through some of these and also look at the other categories for the differences.
Bic is also using the Universal Typeface project as a way to promote their new Bic Cristal Stylus. Its interesting because the one pictured above seems to mostly only be available in the UK but I was able to find some for sale here. There is another retractable version that is a bit more Stylized but doesn’t really look like the Bic Cristal. I have to wonder if the folks at Bic saw the stubby knock off Bic Cristal Stylus and decided to capitalize on it on their own though. Anyway, check out the Bic Universal Typeface project here and if your up for it, submit your own unique writing sample.