Digital transport display face research

gradiate's picture

Hello All–
Tried a search on this but for some reason I draw a blank each time with a "Page not found". So I was wondering if anyone could point me in the direction of any research, links or particular faces in the area of dot matrix and digital faces used on public transport. I mean on the boards that give destination and up to date info.

I have AF Track and Video Wall by ACME. Various other dot matrix faces but any other info or pointers greatly received.
Thanks.

typofoto's picture

Some good stuff here about the Trans European Road Network typeface, which has a VMS (variable message sign) version:
http://www.iiid.net/SOMS/Typeface%20Tern.htm

nina's picture

I did some research on this a while ago. At least in Germany (where I focused my research), it seems to be common practice for manufacturers of LED or «flipdot» displays for public transport to design the fonts in-house, which means the fonts are their proprietary designs and never leave the system they're designed for.* Some companies I believe include a little «font editor» in their package so that clients can futz around with the fonts themselves.
(* But of course they're easily reconstructed, outside the system. If you just need something that has a similar look, search «dot matrix» or «terminal» at MyFonts and/or other places and you'll find more than you can possibly want ;-).)

BTW, of course this doesn't mean these companies have [type] designers working there… One guy I spoke to said (once he understood what I was asking about), oh, their customer service department is in charge of «making the letters». Granted, you don't have very many options on such a coarse grid, so most of the stuff still ends up somewhat legible; but this certainly helps explain why many of these displays seem to lack basic typographic sensitivity (like those crammed-in descenders. Hey, who really needs those sticks if we can save two lines of LEDs!).
There's been a bunch of work on legibility requirements, but those only look at things like contrast, brightness of LEDs and letter size, not really the design. It sure seems like an area where there's still a lot that can and hopefully will be done for design.

And, the search is broken at the moment, try using Google (restrain your search using «site:typophile.com»).

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