B612 Open Source Font Family – Designed for Aircraft Cockpit Screens
I’m all up for big companies, like Airbus for one very specific example, embracing open-source, especially when it comes to freely sharing one of their own unique brand fonts.
You’ll get the following font styles for B612, along with the B612 Mono version as well: Regular, Regular Italic, Bold, Bold Italic
If you are curious about the licensing for B612, then you can read up on Eclipse Public License v1.0 I’ve not yet fully digested it myself, so don’t assume anything until you’ve read it.
B612 is the result of a research project initiated by Airbus. The font was designed by Nicolas Chauveau and Thomas Paillot (intactile DESIGN) with the support of Jean‑Luc Vinot (ENAC). Prior research by Jean‑Luc Vinot (DGAC/DSNA) and Sylvie Athènes (Université de Toulouse III).
The Genesis of B612
In 2010, Airbus initiated a research collaboration with ENAC and Université de Toulouse III on a prospective study to define and validate an “Aeronautical Font”: the challenge was to improve the display of information on the cockpit screens, in particular in terms of legibility and comfort of reading, and to optimize the overall homogeneity of the cockpit.
2 years later, Airbus came to find Intactile DESIGN to work on the design of the eight typographic variants of the font. This one, baptized B612 in reference to the imaginary asteroid of the aviator Saint‑Exupéry, benefited from a complete hinting on all the characters.
B612 – Typeface Design for Avionics
In 2010, Airbus initiated a research collaboration on a prospective study to define and validate an “Aeronautical Font”: the challenge was to improve the display of information on the cockpit screens, in particular in terms of legibility and comfort of reading, and to optimize the overall homogeneity of the cockpit.
As part of this cooperation, the Airbus team for the HMI asked Jean‑Luc Vinot (PII R & D team of DSNA / DTI) and Sylvie Athènes of PRISSMH Laboratory (University of Toulouse III) for a research and expertise work (Conception, évaluation et validation de fontes numériques pour l’affichage d’informations critiques sur écrans dans le domaine aéronautique).
The results of this initial research validated the concepts, and Airbus then entrusted Intactile DESIGN with the industrialization of this prototype. The designers worked on the design of each character (587 glyphs per font for the V1), for each of the eight typographic variants of the font. This one, baptized B612 in reference to the imaginary asteroid of the aviator Saint‑Exupéry, benefited from a complete hinting on all the characters. The hinting instructions, integrated with the characters, favor the display for low and medium resolutions, taking into account optical corrections and ensuring correct alignments with the pixels of the screens.
For Airbus, the objective of the project was to have an aeronautical font, designed specifically to ensure optimal display of textual information, even in a degraded context, on all screens of future Airbus programs. B612, mainly for digital use, is already used for the design of pilot-system interfaces and devices for future aircraft.
Coming from a research program that was fairly conventionally based on experimentation, the process quickly became iterative. The research methods were put at the service of the creation and the design team in a shared conception: project B612 is a success because it has created a strong symbiosis between research, design and industry.
Finally, one of the interesting features of the project is the fact that Airbus has agreed that this research cooperation will lead to an open-source publication of the fonts. This publication has been finalized within the framework of the Polarsys project in June 2017.
All resources are available here: B612 – The PolarSys Font.
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