To be honest, I hadn’t given much thought to the text characters that show up in the display of an embedded system. I’m guessing I’m not alone in taking this technology for granted. Mea culpa, as the folks at Monotype pointed out to me last week. There’s far more going on behind the scenes that you’d – or I’d – think.
Monotype is one of the leading providers of typefaces, technology, and expertise for creative applications and consumer devices. The company recently released its Spark solution, which is a small, yet powerful type that lets designers create a product with high-quality scalable text interfaces in low-end platforms with limited run-time memory. Potential markets for a product like Spark include wearables, Internet of Things and medical devices, and low- to mid-level automotive clusters. In most cases, the technology can be implemented without the need for any additional hardware or memory.
Spark is comprised of iType Spark and WorldType Shaper Spark software, and a set of optimized fonts. The iType Spark software enables the scaling and rendering of glyphs from TrueType font files, as well as complete auto hinting in real time and the creation of monochrome and 8-bit grayscale outputs. This can all be handled with a run-time RAM footprint of about 20 KB and a code size for an ARM processor of roughly 98 KB.
The WorldType Shaper Spark software lets low- to mid-end platforms support complex and bidirectional scripts such as Arabic, Thai, and Devanagari with a run-time RAM footprint of about 5 KB and a code size for an ARM processor of 118 KB. In most cases, systems with similar capabilities couldn’t handle scalable fonts.
Spark comes standard with Latin, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Arabic fonts and will be available for download as pre-compiled binaries for a range of popular platforms. The binary ports are available for free evaluation.