New technology allows you to mimic anyone’s handwriting

Web log: New software scribbles some Sherlock

Have you ever wished you could write just like Arthur Conan Doyle? New technology developed by University College London (UCL) can grant your wish: you won't have the literary prowess of the man behind Sherlock Holmes but you will be able to replicate his handwriting almost exactly.

UCL computer scientists have created a programme that can mimic anyone’s handwriting style once it has some samples to learn from. Useful applications include preserving the handwriting style of a stroke victim who can no longer use a pen, or keeping the distinctive style of a comic book artist’s writing while translating the comic into other languages.

The computer programme learns to recreate a sample of handwriting by analysing everything from the spacing between characters and the style of joining up individual letters to how much pressure a person applies when pressing pen to paper. It has taken Conan Doyle’s script and written those words Sherlock never uttered: “Elementary my dear Watson”.