If you have been following the hype generated by the developers of the speed-reading application Spritz, you would think that the software might very well be the invention of the year. Certainly in theory, this app has the potential to revolutionise the way we read.
The technology behind the app boasts impressive results, allowing readers to read at a breakneck speed of a 1,000 words per minute (wpm). Just to give you an idea as to how fast that is, many experts agree that the average reader absorbs words at a speed of 200 to 300 words a minute.
What does a speed of 1,000 wpm mean in real terms? Well, using Spritz, a reader could finish JK Rowling’s 309-page book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, in 77 minutes. Meanwhile, the movie clocks in with a running time of 152 minutes, which means that lazy readers may no longer be able to resort to the excuse that watching the cinematic adaptation saves time. Similarly, the 1,225-page long Russian novel, War and Peace, which is considered a must-read by literary critics is not an easy read. Yet, with the Spritz app, the 560,000 word English translation could be consumed in a day.
How is Spritz managing this? Well, according to the developers, readers only spend 20% of their reading time actually processing content. The other 80% is wasted shifting eyes from one word to the next and between the letters. Spritz isn’t the first application to try and improve reading speed, but it is the first to employ its Optimal Recognition Points technology. Spritz says that when readers read a word, their eyes naturally pinpoint an area on the word, which allows the brain to recognise and understand the meaning of that word. Their technology simply aligns words so that the reader’s eyes see optimal recognition points faster, without actually wasting time shifting between letters. With every readjustment made by Spritz, readers gain seconds, and these seconds eventually add up.
When I first started experimenting with Spritz I was overwhelmed, as it felt like I was reading the words faster than I was processing them. After making an effort to relax, I was processing faster, but it still felt like I was skim reading at best. As an avid reader of books, I feel the largest issue with the technology is that it works only for digital reading. This means that old-fashioned readers who like to curl up with a physical copy of a book are obviously out of luck for now. Spritz will also only be available for future Samsung devices such as the Galaxy S5, which means that those with other devices will have to wait.
While Spritz may prove to be an excellent application for readers interested in pouring through mindless material which requires little comprehension time, I feel that readers who wish to truly enjoy their digital books will steer clear.
Spritz allows readers to read at a breakneck speed of 1,000 words per minute (wpm). And many experts agree that the average reader absorbs words at a speed of 200 to 300 words a minute.
Noman Ansari is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to several publications. He tweets @Pugnate
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, March 23rd, 2014.
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