Typotheque introduces Phonts

phonts blog

Typotheque is proud to announce another pioneering advance in its quest to deliver fine typography to all people everywhere. The innovative font foundry began by designing fonts to cover almost 200 languages from Awadhi to Zulu, then designed a system to make them available for use on the World Wide Web. Now the company is focusing on a significant population which, up until now, has been unable to benefit from sophisticated type design: the estimated 314 million people worldwide who are visually impaired.

Historically, those who rely on text-to-speech systems to surf the Internet have been limited to a single synthesized voice set at the OS level. Typotheque’s revolutionary Phont® technology changes all that by linking web fonts to a complex database of meticulously digitized voice data. Each voice has been carefully selected to match the appearance of one of Typotheque’s more than 200 fonts, so while Fedra Sans Display Hairline is rendered by actress Tilda Swinton, Klimax is represented by singer Barry White. All the subtle differences between a font’s styles, sometimes as many as 10 different weights, are reflected in the intonation, stress, tempo and color of the voices, capturing the character of each font with psychological realism and emotional authenticity.

The development process included months of casting to find voice actors who could capture the true qualities of the fonts. “The biggest challenge was to find the right articulations for Roman and Italic fonts. This was simply new territory for the actors and type designers alike,” commented Typotheque CEO Peter Biľak. “Bold versions are easy to communicate, but italics are very subtle, not noticeable at first unless you are listening closely.” Biľak also described the difficulties representing Small Capitals: “While All Caps text is authoritative, almost like yelling, Small Caps is a different method of emphasis which needs to be audibly distinguished.”

The Phont® library is still a work in progress; Typotheque is still researching new solutions for articulating inferior and superior letters, ordinals and discretionary ligatures, bringing the full potential of typography to those who otherwise couldn’t appreciate it.

Typotheque Phonts® will be available for individual licensing just like their print versions, or as a bundle with a substantial discount.

Phonts package