How would you like to read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in just 77 minutes? Or the Lord of the Rings series in half a day? What if you could get through the weight of Moby Dick in just 3 and a half hours? With Spritz you can.
The average adult reads around 300 words per minute but with new technology you could reach speeds of up to three times that. Spritz, launched March, is a speed reading engine that can be integrated into various systems. The technology is based upon research that revealed, firstly, that a person can only process up to 13 characters at a time and, secondly, that the eye looks to a certain point in a word (slightly left of centre) in order to interpret its meaning. Such studies into how we read have made it possible to read a greater breadth of material and, whilst this may not be best suited to reading for pleasure, it could have a vast impact upon academic study. Particularly for students who have limited background knowledge of the theories and research on their specific topic of interest.
The technology is based upon Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP), a psychological technique that has been used since the 70s to measure human reading behaviour and reactions. Spritz claim that 80% of reading time is wasted on eye movement rather than comprehension. Based on this, they have advanced traditional methods by highlighting the Optimal Recognition Point (ORP), focusing your attention to where it is needed and therefore increasing comprehension time. Co-founder, Frank Walden, even argues that you retain more because you resist the habit of skipping over words.
Another advantage is the speed with which you can adapt to reading this way: a matter of minutes in contrast to other methods such as online courses, seminars or in books, which can span weeks or months. Although, whether you could sustain reading at these speeds through a lengthy text is questionable.
Reading digital formats is increasingly popular and there is little need to reiterate its many advantages such as instant access, portability and easy storage. However, as the expanse and variety of literature available has grown it has inevitably increased the pile of texts that we simply don’t have time for and, perhaps, this is a sign that we need to adapt the way we are reading. Whilst speed reading apps have been on the market for a while, they do not make use of the ORP and are also specific to certain devices. Spritz is an engine that can be integrated into any application or website and although currently only available on Samsung, demands have already come from the public to implement it within apple products.[quote align=”left” name=”Frank Walden” role=”Co-founder”]We haven’t found a language yet that this doesn’t work with.[/quote]
The start-up company are also ambitious about future developments. Whilst currently usable with email, SMS messaging and other forms of digital text; the company are working on other areas such as pictures, maps, videos, subtitles and, most intriguingly social media. Social media is already the domain that most satisfies our need for rapid and widespread distribution of information and culture. It is also clogged with a lot of unnecessary information. With Spritzing you could get through it all and slow down to focus on the real points of interest.
What could make this appealing to students is the ability to speed through a stack of secondary reading (just think of all those articles you could get through!) and slow down for things that they enjoy. It would be sad to think that the works of some of our greatest writers could be consumed like fast food and forgotten in the rush for the next thing. Sometimes, maybe, we need to slow down.