Today in Terrible Patents: Fonts with Feelings

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The United States Patent and Trademark Office gave Microsoft a patent on Tuesday for the science of the “fontling.” A fontling is basically an animated font, which from the patent’s abstract would be used primarily for educational purposes. A basic summary from the patent shows how general an idea this is: “The characters are modified in one of various ways, such as by altering their appearance, playing sounds associated with them, making the characters appear to be in motion, and so on.” Basically, Microsoft just got a patent on all animated .gif files that are principally text.

But wait, it gets more irritating. Here are some other specific examples of ways fontlings could “help” people understand words:

“the word “bees” could show bees flying around with or without a “buzz” sound effect; the word “DANGER” could have the “A” and “E” going Lip and becoming red and turning with the sound of a siren.”

This sounds awful and annoying. And it really is. If you want to undergo some of the cruelest sensory torture on the internet, go to this site and watch both videos under animated fonts at the bottom. If you make it through the whole thing without skipping from boredom or audio-visual suffering, you’re a stronger person than I am.

In addition to the obvious patent law question of “is there prior art” (one would think so), I dunno how letters shouting at our kids is going to help them learn. It’s probably just going to terrify them. If there’s one good thing about this patent, it’s that now only one company is going to be producing painful prototypes with this useless idea.

(Via Slashdot)


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