Boston-based tech company, Spritz, has recently introduced a new speed-reading method. This technology utilizes a previously existing presentation method, known as RSVP (Rapid Serial Visual Presentation). A single letter is highlighted to focus attention to a natural center of the word. The brain processes the rest of the word through your peripheral vision. By keeping the highlighted word in the same place, Spritz is able to eliminate minute eye movements that make up a large part of our natural reading process.
My friend Julia Hlavacik and I were discussing this new technology when we realized we might be onto something interesting. Not only does this kind of program have potential for everyday uses such as e-readers, mobile web pages, and all forms of articles; it also circumvents a lot of the problems faced by dyslexic readers.
Dyslexic readers generally have trouble scanning lines of text, finding the next line of text, staying focused on a word in a line, reading on certain colors of paper/background along with some impairment of spatial awareness. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but all of these issues are either alleviated or circumvented through RSVP. Although normal readers may not experience these problems to the same acute degree as most dyslexic readers, this speed-reading program can still significantly boost the average person’s reading. This is particularly useful on small, digital screens where text can be difficult to adjust.
The video below demonstrates a brief proof-of-concept. The text you see is being presented at 250 WPM; the reading speed of an average adult. To many of you, this text will likely appear somewhat sluggish – most readers can easily adapt to 500 WPM or more. I chose to use an open source API called OpenSpritz as the Spritz API has limited customization options and forces users to create an account and sign in. Two examples of customization that would be impossible with Spritz’s API are the color theme and the ability to adjust the WPM on the fly to account for longer words or punctuation.