End hand cramps: Robots can write your ‘handwritten’ notes

| January 28, 2015

As hiring managers, gift-givers and nostalgia-appreciators of all sorts know, there’s no small gesture quite as touching as a handwritten note. But as anyone who has ever interviewed for multiple jobs, gotten married, or received a ton of fan mail knows from experience, writing countless cards by hand is an especially laborious labor of love. A new bot, produced by the company Bond, aims to take the hand cramps — and the hours — out of handwritten notes.

Handwritten notes don't have to be handwritten anymore. From scott felstein.

Handwritten notes don’t have to be handwritten anymore. From scott feldstein.

As FastCo reports, Bond “launched in 2013 as a gift-giving service with a less adept note-writing bot. The company transitioned to just notes this November, after recognizing how much people liked the personalization aspect of the business.” Explains founder and CEO Sonny Caberwal, “We think there’s a lot of friction points when it comes to doing something nice for someone else.”

Sending a handwritten note using the Bond bots is simple: First, would-be letter writers provide a handwriting sample of a couple paragraphs, which is analyzed to “extract a person’s distinctive handwriting characteristics and style.” Individual letters aren’t copied; the bot instead “learns spacing patterns, angulation, how a person connects certain letters, and how far someone veers from the margins.” Writers can also draw, or choose an existing personalized doodle, such as a smile.

Other services, like MyScriptFont, create a font out of the writer’s handwriting, but Bond instead uses a robot to pen the words. Once the handwriting has been processed — within 2-3 days — writers can visit the company’s website and choose a stationery (such as a wedding thank-you design) or even a different font (such as celebrity scrawling)  from a selection of templates.

The robots move the same way an “old school line printer” does along the page and Bond has 11 machines which can create 500-700 notes in a 10-hour day. “It’s a lot of work to make sure the thing looks perfect,” says Caberwal. “We thought about: what is the right kind of pen? What is the right kind of paper? How does the ink bleed into these things?”

Each note is made-to-order, so, as FastCo explains, “even if you send out ten thousand of the same message—something a company might do around the holidays, say—none will look the exactly same as the next. The robots inject some variety in handwriting into each letter.” Cards are sent out within 48 hours, and cost $2.99 each (the price can drop to $1.49 for bulk orders).

In a world where tweets and Snapchats are speedily displacing even email, is there a place for handwritten — er, robot-written — notes? “Ultimately people are about the human experience,” says Caberwal. “You want convenience but you also want to feel things. I don’t mean literally feel things, but the emotional context. Good communication elicits a response and an emotion for someone.”

Watch Bond’s writing robot scrawl out cards in the video below.

Introducing Bond from Bond on Vimeo.

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Category: New Products, Office courtesy

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