February 18, 2014
Ever since I saw “Good Will Hunting,” I’ve wanted to know how to speed read. Although I know I’m not a genius like Will Hunting, the thought of being able to read a novel in a matter of hours has fascinated me. Over the years, I’ve researched and tried many different forms of speed reading… with limited success.
Although there are many different ways to increase your reading rate, I found there are two specific forms that are most common – skimming and meta-guiding.
Skimming is probably the most common form of speed reading. This form involves quickly searching a sentence for the important words that lead to its overall meaning, without reading each individual word. Although this form of reading has proven in more than double reading speeds, it significantly lowers comprehension rates because it is easy to miss important information.
Meta-guiding is more of a visual guiding system for your eyes. In this form of reading, you use your finger or a marker to follow the text as you read. As your finger moves along the page, your eyes will naturally its motion, allowing you to stay more focused on the given sentence or paragraph. Meta-guiding can actually increase reading speeds, but many people still think readers still don’t comprehend everything in a body of text.
Now, the next generation of speed-reading may have arrived with a technology startup called Spritz Inc., and it has already shown impressive results. The Boston-based company has developed a technology that helps you read faster and comprehend more by eliminating distractions and individual pages altogether. Specifically, “spritzing” involves a stream of single words that run through a screen, which keeps your eyes fixed in the same spot the whole time.
The real question is: How does reading one word at a time actually improve reading speeds?
Well, the most time consuming part of traditional reading is the actual movement of your eyes when traveling from word to word, which Spritz eliminates. Additionally, other forms of speed-reading can take a significant amount of practice to learn and adapt for everyday use. Due to its simplicity, spritzing can improve reading speeds almost instantly — and its multiple speeds allow you to gradually work your way up to faster reading speeds over time.
There are similar technologies and programs that cycle through individual words, such as Spreeder, but the one difference with Spritz is it highlights one letter in each word to minimize eye movement even more, which helps you stay focused.
For example, the average reading speed for people is 200-220 words per minute. However, the gif below cycles through words at a rate of 250 words per minute and is relatively easy to comprehend.
Yes, it’s a little overwhelming at first but once you relax it actually gets significantly easier. Try it again, but this time we’ll go with 350 words per minute.
It’s easy to see the difference between the two rates when they are compared next to each other but overall there isn’t a massive difference. Finally, let’s take a look at what 500 words per minute looks like.
This test is significantly faster than the previous two. Personally, I didn’t think I would be able to read everything and actually comprehend what I was reading. However, after I relaxed a bit and concentrated on getting every word I could, I realized that things moved quickly but I comprehended almost all of it.
Spritz offers a wide variety of speeds to help you improve your speed-reading, with the fastest speed topping out at 1,000 words per minute. The ultimate goal of the company is to incorporate this technology into a wide variety of applications around the world, from operating systems and websites to wearable tech and closed captioning.
The company has announced that the first version of the technology will be released on the new Samsung Gear2 and Galaxy S5. Hopefully this technology will continue to be implemented into new and current technology, improving the way we consume and comprehend media.
February 18, 2014