It’s widely been predicted in sci-fi books and films that robots will one day become self-sufficient enough to take over the world. While that day might still be far off, there’s no denying that the field of robotics is steadily advancing, with devices now able to fill a car with gas and even judge a food competition. But in an age where written communication has long been taken over by email and uniform typefaces, manual handwriting remains a personal and heartfelt way to express a message. But what if the old art of letter writing could be automated too? Technology from New York-based Bond now means that it can.
Bond, launched in November of last year, has created a robot capable of mimicking human handwriting styles, using real pens to deliver personalised script. Cards are written by the robot physically moving the pen, in the style of a human hand. Bond offers a range of fonts, from casual or graffiti to the handwriting of Nikola Tesla.
For customers choosing one of those stock fonts a handwritten card will cost USD 2.99, but for those who want to go the extra mile Bond’s unique feature allows customers to upload their own handwriting. That service, costing rather more at USD 199, requires sending in a sheet of written text which Bond’s robot then learns and can call on whenever you need it. This option, and an even-more premium offering which includes a masterclass with a handwriting expert, are aimed at individuals or companies with large mailing lists, be it for wedding guests or conference attendees.
Sonny Caberwal, Bond’s founder, says that the aim is “to give people a tool to express themselves in the way they want”, rather than “to fool people into believing that someone wrote the note for them”. While some may say that this is a watering down of written communication, the robot goes about its work with remarkable elegance, with its physical motions adding to the sense that this is still a service with personality. The robot is even sophisticated enough to vary handwriting slightly, for added realism.
With research suggesting that handwritten letters are more likely to be opened than their online equivalents, could Bond revive a dying art for the technological age?