Monday, September 22, 2008

economical use of pixels in fonts



http://cg.scs.carleton.ca/~luc/PHOTOALBUM/daniel_pelavin_test_1996.jpg (pic)

http://www.gwywyr.com/articles/scimaths/3x3.html (pic)

http://www.digibarn.com/collections/software/elixir/page_01.htm

D: the third web site shows how we have been spoiled with post-SVGA very high resolution monitors. We assume we can indefinitely scale a Truetype font, and the pixel count will support it. But this places a cap on how small a legible symbol can be.
I show above examples of a 3x3 font that is *just* legible.
Early computer fonts were only 5x8 - see Atari stuff.
Then we went to 8x12.

http://www.geocities.com/dinosnider666/anatomical_phonetic_font.html

Because my Hioxian system uses an alphanumeric display layout, it doesn't work below a certain pixel resolution. In my case, I think 5x8 was *just* sufficient. It would be incredibly chunky.
At the size of a computer monitor pixel, the details would blur together.
Still, it is interesting to ponder just how minimal and spartan a font can be and still function.

Aside: I was talking to buddy Rick H., a computing prof at WLU, about 3D displays. I started thinking about that movie "Contact" with Jodie Foster. OK, I started thinking about Foster first, LOL! Anyway, I read the book too - I thought the movie was more concise and focused. The alien font is difficult for the protagonists to decipher. They finally realize that aliens use a 3D layout v.s. 2D like ourselves. I have to assume they have sweet 3D displays using circular polarization, like our latest ZScreen technology. It would seem that those aliens are related to that freaky mutant of our world, the Mantis Shrimp. It is the only living thing we know that can see and meaningfully use circular polarized light.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080320120732.htm
I thought it would be fun to turn that alien alphabet part of that movie into real 3D.
I admit I am intrigued by the potential of using 3D info to increase data density in a font.
The high end circular polarized 3D tech is only now coming onto the market, and a decent display runs 5000bux. But we could be on the very cusp of a dramatic change in the way we present computer information. It is pretty cool to think of that!
Thoughts?
Cheers.
D.

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