If you’re still on page 13 of that book you’ve been trying to finish for nearly three months now, then you may want to look into new mobile phone technology that purports to turn you into a speed-reading superstar (via The Telegraph) by nearly quadrupling the number of words you can digest in a minute.
Developed by U.S company Spritz, the technology takes a scientific approach to perfecting the experience of reading by changing the way the words appear to you. Rather than appear as a block of text, each word appears alone for a split second before disappearing so the next one can flash.
To the ignorant and unscientific minded among us (i.e., me) this may sound like the best way to prolong the reading experience. Read Pride and Prejudice one word at a time, you must be kidding?
Turns out, it isn’t a joke but rather a nifty way to get past the boring stuff (Wickham) and into the good stuff (Darcy, Pemberley) more quickly.
As Telegraph writer Harry Wallop explains in a recent review of the app-like technology, the average reading pace is about 250 words a minute. This pace, which is by no means worryingly slow, is determined by the traditional appearance of text. Words appear in a line and consequently when we read our eyes flicker forward in search of the next word in the line and so on and so on.
“This searching creates a so-called saccade, a split-second of eye flicker, which slows down the whole process,” writes Wallop.
Doesn’t sound like a big problem, right? Well, it isn’t really. But it can be a pain on Sunday night when you’re trying to read a 600-page report for Monday morning’s meeting.
Spritz’s technology gets rid of the saccade and in so doing potentially boosts your wpm to anywhere from 900 words to a 1,000 words a minute. At the moment, it’s available on Samsung smartphones and there’s a chance it may be added to Kindle soon.
There are some drawbacks to being a lightning-fast speed-reader, however. For Wallop the pleasure of reading is diminished greatly, and after watching a few minutes of staccade-less text flash by my eyes I get what he’s saying. Reading, like eating, sleeping and nudge-nudge-wink-wink, is an activity that doesn’t necessarily get more pleasurable the faster you do it. It may be beneficial for ripping through that 600-page report (that’s never going to be pleasurable anway). But reading Pride and Prejudice at 250 words a minute is a pace I can live with.