I have always been fascinated by people who can speed read on demand, or just generally read incredibly fast. By fascinated, what I really mean is jealous. I just want to knock them out, drag them to a corner room, and consume their brain and maybe their eyes in a bid to gain this ultimate skill of the information age.
But the guys at Spritz have created a tool that is so timely it might prevent me from being locked up in prison.
I’m not talking about a squirt of water or the sweet Italian alcoholic concoction. I’m talking about Spritz, the tool that allows anyone to be able to finish Taking Lives—a 300 page psycho-thriller—in just under 80 minutes, as long as you can focus and stare intently at a spot.
Here’s an example of Spritz in action at 350 words per minute (wpm):
Using an algorithm, it identifies a word’s Optimal Recognition Point or ORP, and centers the word based on that point. That way, a reader can fixate his gaze at a point and absorb information like Zachary Levi in Chuck, without ever having to move his eyes.
While such tools already exist on the web, such as the Rapid Serial Visual Presentation or RSVP in short, Spritz may be a winner with its ORP algorithm. This next picture shows a comparison between RSVP and Spritz.
Or has it?
A tool that strips a readable document of formatting and compresses it into a strobing rectangular box may have potential problems, despite empowering slow readers like me to read way faster.
Some types of literary work are not suitable for such perverse manipulation. Literature, poems, novels, and other similar types of written work are meant to be consumed like gourmet food — that is, they should be relished and not skimmed.
Another problem is that it may lead to the rise of another social problem.
But seriously, reading with Spritz may just be terrible for your eyes precisely because they don’t move at all.
A third potential problem is reliance. Imagine being able to tear through Wikipedia and journal articles in less than a quarter the time you used to take (average reading speed is 220 wpm). Why would you ever go back to reading articles from left to right?
Spritz is not here yet.
Whether this brings a revolution in the way we read remains to be seen, as the service is currently still in sign up, beta phase.
Good news for early adopters is that the technology will premier on Samsung’s Galaxy S5 smartphone and Gear 2 said to be incorporated into the native email app.
For now, it’s back to reading at normal speed. At least I look decent while going about it.