Date Published: 12th August 2016

If you’ve ever felt like computer text lacks the personal touch that handwritten text does, then you’ll be pleased to learn that researchers at University College London have taught a computer to imitate anyone’s handwriting.

A team at UCL have created an algorithm that can take a sample of handwritten text, examine its qualities, and then write any text in the same style.

There are already typefaces in existence that produce text in a fairly uniform handwritten style, but this latest development by researcher Tom Haines and him team at UCL specifically reproduces the unique scrawl of any individual.

The system is called My Text In Your Handwriting , and has been tested using samples of handwritten text from historical figures, such as Abraham Lincoln and Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

While Conan Doyle never actually wrote “Elementary, my dear Watson…” the UCL team have now produced that sentence in his handwriting.

While previous programmes have relied on text being written on a tablet, this system can use text written on paper, with any-old ballpoint pen. The first stage of the process is to use a program that marks up each letter and punctuation mark, analysing in users writing style in great detail.

When the analysis is complete, it is then fed into the algorithm and the desired output text is typed in – producing the result in the inputted handwriting style.

One might question the use of such technology, or maybe the potential dangers.

Uses of My Text In Your Handwriting include the commercial use of sending personal-looking messages alongside presents or flowers when using online delivery services. Another example is for use by banks in order to disguise sensitive documents so that they look like handwritten personal letters.

One may also worry that the technology could be misused by criminals attempting to forge signatures, however its creators say not to worry – close examination with a microscope will still reveal whether any text is handwritten or machine -generated

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