Monotype and MIT AgeLab Develop Streamlined SOA Research Method for Testing Typeface Legibility under Glance-Like Conditions

  Monotype and MIT AgeLab Develop Streamlined SOA Research Method for Testing
  Typeface Legibility under Glance-Like Conditions

New Methodology Optimizes Interface Design Process by Testing Pure Legibility
                       of Latin and Non-Latin Typefaces

Business Wire

WOBURN, Mass. -- June 26, 2014

Following up on the 2012 research, Monotype Imaging Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq:
TYPE) today announced that together with the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT) AgeLab, they have developed a new, streamlined methodology
for testing the legibility of typefaces on screens under glance-like
conditions. Their new study correlates with the results of the previous
research but uses an adapted Stimulus Onset Asynchrony (SOA) methodology to
create a more flexible, cost- and time-effective way for designers to test
specific typeface legibility under glance-like behavior – and help OEMs such
as automotive manufacturers and HMI designers select a legible typeface for
in-vehicle displays. The results of the new tests found that on average, a
humanist (Frutiger®) typeface could be read accurately in shorter (8.8
percent) exposure times than a square grotesque (Eurostile®) typeface – which
was broadly consistent with the legibility benefit for Frutiger as seen in the
previous study.

SOA is a psychophysical method that was adapted by the research team to
investigate subtle aesthetic properties of typographic and graphic design by
employing a relatively pure measurement of legibility. It focuses on the
typographic variables affecting legibility and using a standard desktop
computer rather than a driving simulator, reduces the complexity,
administration time, and data reduction and analysis costs required to study
various ways in which typographic information is displayed.

“The new study highlights that basic psychophysics research tools can be
practically utilized to help designers andengineers balance the subtle
tradeoffs between typography and interface characteristics, while seeking to
optimize the demands placed on the driver,” said Bryan Reimer, research
scientist at MIT AgeLab and one of the principle researchers of the project.
“With the advancing use of digital displays in vehicles, efforts to
objectively evaluate legibility and different interface characteristics may
help automakers better meet governmental distraction guidelines, while
providing the driver with an enjoyable experience from the showroom to the

The latest research tested participants on a lexical decision task, to find
the minimal time needed to recognize whether or not a string of letters was a
word (as opposed to a nonsense string). The researchers hypothesized that a
more legible typeface would require less time for correct recognition. The
methodology enforced glance-like behavior, paralleling occlusion test methods
commonly used in the driving research field. The results of the SOA
methodology have led researchers to believe that with extraneous behavioral
factors removed, such as differences in allocating attention while driving,
the legibility benefits of the humanist typeface are now more clearly evident
than in the earlier research.

The research team also applied the methodology among participants in a
subsequent study to investigate the legibility of typefaces in glance-like
contexts among five Simplified Chinese typefaces that are used in various
late-model car navigation and automotive HMIs. The most legible typeface in
that study could be read accurately in shorter (33.1 percent) exposure times
than the least legible typeface – demonstrating that the methodology may work
across multiple languages, a critical component to automotive interface

“While more work needs to be done, we believe the SOA approach could be
further adapted to investigate a wide range of questions relevant to
typographic and graphic design in automotive HMI designs. This research can be
easily expanded to other languages and scripts as we did in the Chinese
study,” said Monotype’s Dr. Nadine Chahine, a legibility specialist and an
award-winning typeface designer and one of the report’s co-authors and
principle researchers of the project. “Our findings also suggest that the
methodology could be suitable for various glance-based reading environments,
not only for automotive displays but also for medical apparatus, smartphones
and other devices.”

The optimization of intrinsic and extrinsic features of type and the graphic
design in which the text is presented, according to the researchers, may help
reduce the demand on drivers when glancing at interfaces, making it easier for
automotive manufacturers and suppliers to meet new governmental guidelines
(National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2013).

Full results of the latest legibility studies are available as MIT AgeLab
white papers for both the English and Chinese studies. Additionally, portions
of the studies will be presented by Chahine at the Car HMI Concepts and
Systems conference in Berlin, Germany, June 26-27, 2014, where Chahine is
scheduled to speak.

About Monotype

Monotype is a leading global provider of typefaces, technology and expertise
that enable the best user experience and ensure brand integrity. Headquartered
in Woburn, Mass., Monotype provides customers worldwide with typeface
solutions for a broad range of creative applications and consumer devices. The
company’s libraries and e-commerce sites are home to many of the most widely
used typefaces – including the Helvetica®, Frutiger and Univers® families – as
well as the next generation of type designs. Further information is available
at Follow Monotype on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and
Monotype’s Type Case blog.

Monotype, Helvetica and Frutiger are trademarks of Monotype Imaging Inc.
registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in
certain jurisdictions. Eurostile and Univers are trademarks of Monotype GmbH
registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in
certain jurisdictions. ©2014 Monotype Imaging Holdings Inc. All rights

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available:



Vikki Quick, 781-970-6115
Propeller Group for Monotype UK
Hilary Gray, 44 203301 5347
Maisberger for Monotype Germany
Christine Wildgruber, 49 (0) 89 / 41 95 99 27
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