Mar. 7, 2014 -- A new speed reading program promises to help you read a novel in less than 90 minutes without having to move your eyes.
Boston-based tech company Spritz has been working in “Stealth Mode” for three years, developing technology that manipulates text word format to limit your eye movement when reading, and shorten the time your brain takes to process the information.
The program streams one word at a time, highlighting the “Optimal Recognition Point” or ORP of the word in red and aligning those specific letters to a central point. This can help you read at speeds of up to 1,000 words a minute, depending on the reader’s comfort level, the company says. Test it here.
Spritz is planning to debut the technology on the Samsung Gear 2 and Galaxy S5 (release dates haven’t even been announced yet), and says that it can be used for more than just books, but also to read emails, articles, social media streams or any Web-based content on mobile devices.
While there are numerous ways to teach yourself to speed read, including skimming, talking to yourself while reading, running your finger faster along the page and reading entire pages by taking a mental “snapshot,” these take time and effort, Spritz says.
“Spritzing can be learned in less than five minutes and, if you don’t spritz for a month, no practice is needed to return quickly to your previous speed or skill-level,” the company says on its website.
But how new is this technology?
Rapid serial visual presentation technology, or RSVP, on cell phones has been around for nearly a decade, since Stanford researchers introduced it at an IBM conference in 2005. Various speed reading apps have also proliferated as a result of the ever-increasing popularity of ebooks, coupled with our seemingly shortening attention spans. There’s a whole market out there for willing readers, but we've highlighted below a brief rundown of some popular programs.
Most readers can only read as fast as they speak, which is roughly 200 words a minute. Online software, Spreeder aims to silence this “inner voice” that prevents you from reader faster, and trains you instead to digest two, three or even four word chunks at a time. Simply load a passage of text into the software and, similar to Spritz, it will spit it out for you at a pre-determined speed. The best thing is, it’s also free.
Unlike Spritz and Spreeder, the Quickreader is an app that can be downloaded to your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. It shows the full text on the screen, highlighting the words to help you pick up your reading pace. There's a pick of pre-loaded ebooks, or you can upload your own if those don’t take your fancy. The app costs $4.99, but a free version is also available with limited books.
Read Quick uses typical RSVP technology on mobile devices to help you read articles faster. Much like Spritz, the one word is flashed across the screen at a time, but the difference is Read Quick ($9.99) is also compatible with high-quality news and long-format story sites on the Web. It plugs straight into publications like LongReads and Talking Points Memo, so you can read several pages in just a couple of subway stops. At the end, you can share your reading speed with friends on social media.
RSVP Reader for Firefox
RSVP Reader for Firefox is free downloadable software that claims to double or triple your reading speed. Like the other programs, RSVP technology lets you choose the pace of words that appear across your screen. The only downfall is that it can’t read emails.