How fast do you read? A 500 pages novel takes you two days to finish? A week? Ordinarily medium paged novels require at least two days to read from back to back without major breaks. My record time was reading a 1200 pages novel in under 24 hours after I learnt how to skip non-important paragraphs.
The eternity taken to read a novel stems from the fact that most of us only read at speeds of between 200 and 400 words per minute. But in today’s world where we have Facebook and Twitter generating new information at millions and billions upon trillions of words per minute, there is need to change the speed at which we digest the new information – at least so that we can reduce the level of disconnect we have with our friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter.
To help in this, a startup has developed a technology that promises to reduce the reading time of an ordinary novel from over two days to under 90 minutes. Spritz, as the Startup calls itself, has come up with a technique that utilizes Rapid Serial Visual Presentation to present information to the reader. It is said that when ones eyes are fixated at a point, the brain becomes capable of processing information faster than when the eyes are wondering from side to side or from top to bottom when reading.
When your eyes move when reading, you normally process about 200 to 400 words per minute but when you fix your eyes at a focal point where new words appear (see GIFs below), the brain can process information at speeds more than 1000 words per minute. This means one can get to read tweets and Facebook updates at more than 2.5 times faster than currently is the case….meaning if you read only 100 tweets each time you are on Twitter, Spritz wants you to increase that to at least 250 tweets.
Looking at the GIFs though, I personally won’t use Spritz to read. The changing texts seem not to have a beginning neither an end so it becomes really difficult to make sense of the words that, to me, appear randomly on screen. I haven’t done any research on how the brain comfortably makes sense of words in a sentence but I think it isn’t practical for the brain to keep “in mind” the words it saw a few seconds ago but cannot be retraced. I do believe that for us to make sense of words in a sentence, we need to be able to access previously read words (sub-consciously) and even have a quick glance of a few words ahead. This ability was somehow demonstrated by NatGeo’s Brain Game programme a few months back.
But that is me thinking. An explanation by Huff Post has it differently, see explanation below.
Here’s a little bit more about how it works: In every word you read, there is an “Optimal Recognition Point” or ORP. This is also called a “fixation point.” The “fixation point” in every word is generally immediately to the left of the middle of a word, explains Kevin Larson, of Microsoft’s Advanced Reading Technologies team. As you read, your eyes hop from fixation point to fixation point, often skipping significantly shorter words.
“After your eyes find the ORP, your brain starts to process the meaning of the word that you’re viewing,” Spritz explains on its website. Spritz indicates the ORP by making it red, and positions each word so that the ORP is at the same point, so your eyes don’t have to move. That’s what makes it different from RSVP speed reading, which just shows you words in rapid succession with no regard to the ORP.
And lastly here are the GIFs that explain how Spritz wants to work.
Does reading the above GIF feel slow? The words are paced at 250 words per minute which should be within the range of reading sentences normally. If it feels slow then well, I think we need to get a faster one. See if you can read this second one that is paced at 350 words a minute.
If you have a slow brain like mine I bet you must be losing some words at this rate. Since ordinarily you are able to read at speeds of up to 400 words a minute, then the speed of words above shouldn’t be too fast, right? And we are not there yet. Spritz says the brain can handle up to 1,000 words per minute so let’s see what half that speed feels like.
Did you manage to make sense of what Spritz is trying to say at 500 words per minute? Way too fast for you? Well they are saying that you need to practice a bit and with time you’ll feel comfortable reading such high paced words. They also want you to like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter so that you can help spread the word for people to get the Spritz App once it is out.
I hope it’s not only me but at 500 words per minute, I needed to ‘re-read’ the sentences more than thrice for me to make sense of the information being conveyed. If I divide the 500 words per minute by three my actual reading speed with Spritz comes to 166 words a minute…way below my normal reading speed which has been rated as 201 words per minute. What would be my reading speed at 1000 words per minute? Maybe below 100 words per minute…
Will you use Spritz for your reading?