Researchers at the St. Andrews and Calgary universities have developed FatFonts, a font that offers a way to write numbers so that their areas equal their numerical value.
The researchers say FatFonts has the potential to transform data visualization by enabling a single infographic to convey exact values as well as a visual overview. The team measured the area for each number and then thickened or thinned sections so that the total area scaled in proportion to each number. For example, the number two has an area that is exactly twice that of one, three is triple the size of one, and 999 is the largest number possible with FatFonts.
The team demonstrated the concept by creating a map of Sicily in which each number represents the height of the ground at that geographical location. Standing back from the map makes it easy to identify mountainous regions, but the added advantage is that moving closer also enables viewers to compare points numerically.
The researchers note the concept is most effective when printed on large, high-resolution wall displays, which are big enough to see the individual numbers as well as large-scale trends.
From New Scientist
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