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Farewell to Arial: Fontself reinvents calligraphy

Released in October 2010, Creator enables anyone to open a free account on fontself.com to use original alphabets, create their own or even use their handwriting to personalise messages on social network platforms such as Netlog,  Facebook,    Myspace, Yahoo! Mail and Blogger.

Frustrated at the lack of customization options for writing on the Internet, Franz Hoffman, a designer trained at the Ecole Cantonale d’Arts of Lausanne, and Marc Escher, a computer scientist trained at the MIRALab of University of Geneva, founded Fontself in 2008 to commercialise software that allows users to create their own fonts for online messages.Premium services

Already downloaded thousands of times from Yahoo! Mail or Facebook appstores, the application comes with a small printable grid that users fill with their handwriting (or any other drawings) to create their personal alphabet. They then scan it, and the software will automatically change the characters typed into the fonts chosen. In parallel, Fontself has also introduced Speetch, which allows users to place speech bubbles on photos or drawings published online. These new apps may be free for Internet users but they have attracted the interest of venture capitalists. Geneva-based Index Ventures invested in Fontself earlier last year. It is betting that like its former investment Skype, Fontself will be able to introduce premium services to generate revenues. The company is also negotiating with large software vendors to embed its patent-protected writing tool into office software suites.

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