I recently read a fascinating article about a new form of reading technology called “Spritz.” When we read, our eyes travel from one word to the next, focusing on the “optimal recognition point” (ORP) of the word, which is the part of the word slightly left of the center that the eyes focus on and send information to the brain to decipher the word’s meaning. When reading a printed book, 80% of the time is spent moving from one word to the next and scanning for the ORP and 20% of the time is spent interpreting the meaning of each word. Spritz has done extensive eye tracking research and studied eye fixations and saccades, which are fast eye movements, to find the ORP of each word.
Using this research, the new technology aligns words at the ORP (and colors them red for emphasis) to eliminate the time our eyes spend moving from one word to the next and allow the brain to process the same amount of information in a shorter period of time. The human eye can only focus on 13 characters at a time, so Spritz limits its words to exactly that; anything longer is cut into two segments, the same way that the brain processes long words when printed in text. Readers can select the speed at which they would like to read, all the way up to 1000 words per minute, compared to the average of 300 words per minute for an adult! Combined with the time it takes to physically flip a page and re-orient ourselves again at the top of the next, this could cut down on a lot of time…imagine reading Harry Potter in merely 77 minutes!
Check out more here and give Spritzing a try: http://www.spritzinc.com/about/#
One thought on “Is Speed-Reading our Future?”
I’ll be honest and say that I have some reservations about the idea of Spritz. I’ll first admit that I have always been a slow reader, which has been a nuisance when it comes to taking exams, like the SATS, for instance. Thus creating texts that benefit comprehension as well as speed is really enticing. On the other hand, the fact that society has come to desire this type of technology reflects our change in values. Our need for speed seems to have really risen in the past decade — to the point where it feels that people care more about getting things done rather than taking deliberate time to enjoy the entire process. Maybe I’m just stuck in the past, but I don’t see how a few extra minutes of pleasurable reading could hurt… you know that feeling of never wanting a book to end? Sometimes it’s nice to savor the words of an author. But now that I think of it, aligning words at the ORP for textbooks and other texts of the sort would be fine by me.