Visual inspiration can strike anywhere, but you might not be in front of your computer when it does. The color of a piece of fruit, the typeface on a book of matches—the best you can do to capture these moments is take a photo and reference it later.

That’s not the worst solution, but Fiona O’Leary has a better idea. For her graduation project at the Royal College of Art, O’Leary developed a handy, handheld tool she calls Spector that captures typefaces and colors in the real world, and then transfers them directly to InDesign.

Full disclosure: Spector is a prototype. A working prototype, but a prototype, nonetheless. You can’t buy it, and while O’Leary is interested in commercializing it, she’s in no rush. There’s no whizbang Spector website or neatly manicured Kickstarter campaign; for now, it’s a smart, charming idea that creates an eminently practical bridge between physical and digital media—which is exactly why it caught our eye.

O’Leary describes Spector as a “physical eyedropper.” We like to think of it as Shazam for colors. Or maybe a Poké Ball for fonts. But we digress. Here’s how it works: Place Spector over a piece of media and depress the button on top. A camera inside photographs the sample, and an algorithm translates the image into information about the shape of the typeface, or the color’s CMYK/RGB values. Spector beams that information to a font or color database, which IDs the sample. If your computer is nearby, a custom plugin ports the font or color information to InDesign, where highlighted text or projects will automatically change to the typeface or color of your real-world sample. No computer? No problem. Spector can store up to 20 font samples, so you can transfer them to your computer later.

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