Oooooooooooooooooooooooooo. What does that look like to you? A long string of Os? Right you are. But with Weird Type, a new augmented reality app from Zach Lieberman and Molmol Kuo that puts words into real space, that “Oooooooooooooooooo” isn’t just a string of letters. It’s a 3D tunnel that you can enter like a cave.
This is just one of many amusing discoveries made by users of the app so far. Weird Type allows you to spell out any word you’d like and place it literally wherever your phone is in space. It’s essentially a digital typographical stamp that you can place onto the world instead of your Instagram Stories. It augurs a future when visual branding exists in animated, three-dimensional space.
The interesting thing is that Weird Type isn’t just a barebones skywriter. It’s got some funky filters out of the gate, too. One breaks your word into pieces spread across the Z plane–it looks perfectly straight head-on, but as soon as you move a few degrees to the side, the illusion falls apart. In another, you type the word you want, but instead of stamping it out, you can flail your arm like a ribbon dancer to spell it out in police-style tape. In one case, someone actually drew a human figure out of this tape, turning words into sculpture. In this sense, Weird Type’s filters are a good analog to Instagram’s filters. They’re easy to use and immediately elevate your work to something worth sharing. (You can record video and stills in the app.)
We’re seeing a flood of Apple AR apps right now, and another is on the way from Google. Yet even amid this cresting wave, Weird Type is notable for the way it integrates text with AR–like a ready-made meme generator that seems to tease a new era of branding to come. Think about it: Decades ago, logos went from being static on a page to full-motion videos. More recently, visual branding went from TV commercials to snarky Twitter personalities. Now, as physical space enters the equation with augmented reality apps, brands will need to master consumer engagement all over again.
I’m not sure Weird Type is the key to doing so, but the experimental app is striking a chord with artists and designers. Or should I say, a chooooooooooooooooooooooord?