Sunday, June 3, 2007


And now Lee Freedman brings us a color alphabet. Idea is: words are represented by blobs (circles, squares, lines...) of different colors, each color corresponding to a letter of the alphabet.
"Kromofons" he calls them.

Some of the applications sound a little silly:
- kids writing to each other in secret code
- painting messages into your toenails
- dancing dots on iPods
- clothes that change colors in different lights, to convey different messages (how about incorporating that into lighting design in theater?)

Then he mentions that he's dyslexic, but doesn't seem to have trouble reading in the Kromofonic alphabet. He may be onto something there. Does that mean that the brain processes colors differently from symbols? There's research that suggests it does.

Some years back there was a process control company that encoded the many statuses of many different machines as colored squares and displayed this squares on an XY display. The managers were then trained to monitor the progress of the processes by recognizing patterns, making it possible for people to keep track of hundreds of variables in real time. Far as I know, it never really caught on.

Then there's synesthesia, a medical condition in which sensory input is perceived in abnormal ways: sounds may have color, tactile textures may have taste and so on. There's some anecdotal evidence that perfect pitch may involve a form of synesthesia in which, say, C is described as "silky" or F# as a "bright turquoise."

I once heard of a synesthetic who could immediately locate the single 5 on a page filled with different digits. 'I just look for the pink one," she said...

Makes you wonder about representing words as colors. With training, could we read more quickly? Do verbal processing more intuitively? What about those WordSearch games?

The article is at


towwas said...

The nice thing about writing they way we do it is, you can do it with anything. Sharpies, pencils, blood, grass - whatever's handy. For this, you'd always have to be carrying a specialized instrument!

Racine said...


I guess if you got stuck without the necessary palette you could use some sort of a code to represent the colors. Amber might be an up-pointy arrow with maybe a little horizontal bar connecting the two sides. Brown could be a vertical line with two semicircles on its right side, one above the other. And maybe chartreuse would be...