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Improve Your Reading Speed? There’s an App for That!

By Tracey Dowdy

Ever tried to read through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in an hour? Me neither but a new app called Spritz promises to make that possible.

Boston-based startup Spritz (same name as the app) is “focused on text streaming technology and its integration into modern communication” and has been developing the app for approximately 3 years. Spritz says their mission is “to change the way people read and make communication faster, easier, and more effective.”

According to their research, reading takes so much time because your eyes constantly have to move from word to word across the page. In addition, traditional reading takes up space – whether it’s a hardcover book or an e-book on your tablet, you’re usually looking at a full page of material. Spritz eliminates the need for a physical book or tablet. In fact, all you need is 13 total characters to show all the available content.

So how do they do it?

Spritz has determined an “Optimal Recognition Point,” or ORP, at which your brain is able to decipher a word. Instead of scanning the text as in traditional reading, words are streamed up to 13 characters at a time, allowing your eyes to focus on a fixed point. According to Spritz, with traditional reading, only 20 percent of your time is spent on comprehension. The other 80 percent is your eyes moving across the text. By keeping your eyes on one fixed point, spritzing is “extremely efficient, precise, convenient and comfortable.”

With Spritz, words are read inside a visual frame, or “redicle,” at the rate you choose – from 250 words per minute up to 1000 wpm. Users are able to adjust the speed in “Settings,” so you aren’t locked in to a specific rate. As you use the app, you find the speed that works best for you; they call that your “Goldilocks Speed” – not too fast, not too slow, but just right!

Critics warn that increasing reading speed will result in a decrease in comprehension. University of Toronto lecturer and cognitive scientist Vedran Dronjic studies language processing. According to Dronjic, the faster the reading speed “the more likely [you] are to be doing it sloppily.” In other words, you may see the words but the information isn’t likely to be stored.

If you’re reading for pleasure, you probably won’t want to burn through text at 1000 wpm. On the other hand, if you have a large number of documents to get through before a meeting or need to have that copy of “Catch 22” read by first period tomorrow morning, you may be in luck.

Spritz will be released for the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone and the Gear 2 watch. The app will initially be available in English, Spanish, French, German, Russian and Korean, with Chinese and other languages to follow later.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, Ontario. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.

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