Typography, Information Graphics

International Eye Charts: The Better to See You

George Mayerle’s Eye Chart in Roman, Hebrew and Chinese

Designers are a trend-conscious lot when it comes to typography.  They like to keep up with the latest edgy typefaces, and will opine endlessly over the historical contributions of Baskerville and Caslon, discuss the attitude evoked by various faces, and when too much kerning or letter spacing makes words illegible… yada, yada, yada, yawn.

Forget all that. Your design-centric pontificating doesn’t matter when it comes to the best typeface for eye exam charts.

English Eye Chart, Left and Greek Eye Chart, Right

Eye exam charts are not designed to be elegant or trendy.  They are based on medical science and geometric measurements. We can’t speak for how “optotype” is rendered in Chinese or Hebrew, but the letters on the English charts are all caps with no thicks or thins in the letterforms.  The same principles undoubtedly apply in other language eye charts as well.  In the case of children and people who can’t read, eye charts test the ability to recognize familiar animals and the direction a hand is pointing. 

Dutch eye doctor Hermann Snellen developed the now famous Snellen eye chart in 1862 by asking patients to cover one eye and read letterforms on a 5×5 grid, while standing 20 feet (or 6 meters away).   The optotype is based on simple geometry in which the thickness of the lines equals the thickness of the white spaces between lines and the thickness of the gap in the letter “C”.  The height and width of the type must be five times the thickness of the line. 

Animal and Hand Direction Eye Charts for Children
Chinese Eye Chart, Left and Japanese Eye Chart, Right
Arabic Eye Chart, Left and Hebrew Eye Chart, Right

The common Snellen chart uses only ten letters C, D, E, F, L, N, O, P, T, Z.  The British Standards Institution specifies twelve letters — C, D, E, F, H, K, N, P, R, U, V, Z — based on the equal legibility of the letters.  It also requires uniform luminance.  Visual acuity tests in doctor’s offices use the same eye charts, but exams for a motor vehicle license randomize letters so vision impaired motorists can’t cheat by memorizing the sequence of letters on the chart. 

Advertising

Google Says “Hey Mom, Thank You”

What’s a good analogy to describe how people talk to their Google Home Hub?  The way kids talk to their mothers and always expect her to be there and respond.  No “please” or “thank you’ or “when you finish what you’re doing,” but simply “hey, Mom.” Released in time for Mother’s Day, this commercial by Wieden & Kennedy for Google’s Home Hub draws a parallel with how people talk to their Home Hub and other Google support devices. No prefaced niceties, but just “hey Google, call my office,” “hey Google, where’s the nearest Starbucks,” “hey Google, tell me how to get to the bridge from here.” That’s okay, don’t feel sheepish. Google, afterall, is internet technology designed to do your bidding. Moms, on the other hand, occasionally like hearing how much she is appreciated. 

Zero Waste Packaging

KFC Good for You, Good for the Earth

Some of us remember the time when our Japanese grandmothers would give us bite-size pieces of hard candy that we could pop in our mouths wrappers and all. The translucent “tissue” would easily dissolve because it was made out of rice paper.   Back then, it was a delightful novelty, but now it may be a solution for the mountains of packaging waste produced by fast-food chains. In Hong Kong, KFC is offering chicken sandwiches wrapped in edible rice paper and printed with edible ink.  It makes sense.  It cuts down on litter.  It’s a tidy way to eat fried chicken without dropping greasy crumbs all over.  And it is still “finger lickin’ good.”

Designed by Ogilvy & Mather Group Hong Kong, the edible wrapper was created to pair with KFC’s bunless Double Down sandwich, which features two pieces of fried chicken in place of bread.  If you eat every last bite, you are responsibly contributing to the Zero Waste Movement.

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Political branding system

Candidate Pete Buttigieg Unveils Multi-colored Campaign Palette

This isn’t an endorsement of candidate Pete Buttigieg’s campaign for President (we try to keep our blog apolitical), but it is a vote for Mayor Pete’s well-conceived graphic identity system. Brooklyn-based design firm, Hyperakt, created the campaign branding program, opting to skip Pete’s last name since most people can’t pronounce, much less spell, “Buttigieg.” (It is roughly pronounced “Boot Edge Edge.”) The logo is in the shape of the historic arched bridge in South Bend, Indiana, where Pete has been mayor for the past eight years, and frames his name within brackets of 2020. Not the usual red white and blue patriotic colors, however, the official campaign palette is made up of nine non-primary colors that represent things that are personally meaningful to the candidate, like the two browns that are the color of Pete’s dogs, Buddy and Truman, and the shades of Midwestern cornfields, industrial buildings and sports team. The branding system also uses a wide range of typefaces to individualize the look for each state. To make it easy for supporters to develop campaign materials without much hassle the campaign’s graphic standards are posted online and are fully scaleable and downloadable.

Logo Quiz

Earth Day 2019

Have you done something nice for your planet today?   It’s Earth Day.

Since the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, many positive environmental protection victories have occurred.  We have phased out cancer-causing asbestos, took the lead out of gasoline, banned toxic DDT and PCBs, cleaned up waterways enough so that rivers don’t spontaneously burst into flames, made progress plugging the ozone hole, saved the bald eagle and the black-footed ferret from extinction, instituted measures to design “green” buildings, among other positive achievements.  

Despite these noteworthy improvements, the earth is not in the clear.  Human use of fossil fuels have largely caused carbon dioxide levels to rise by 46 percent in the last century.  Higher atmospheric temperatures are causing the polar ice cap to melt and sea levels to rise. The earth’s glaciers are losing up to 390 billion tons of ice and snow a year.  Nearly 100 billion plastic bags are used in America every year. The world’s scientists say that there is a 99.9999% chance that humans are the cause of climate change. 

Many industry watchdog agencies are taking action and certifying products and companies that follow responsible environmental practices, acknowledged their efforts by giving them the right to display “seal of approval” labels on their products. Today there are literally hundreds of green product certification labels in the U.S. alone. This little quiz challenges your knowledge of a few of them.

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