If everything in tech is becoming faster, perhaps our reading abilities should follow suit.
The average reader spends just 20 percent of the time processing content -- the remaining 80 percent is spent moving one’s eyes from word to word. So says Boston-based startup Spritz, which is looking to upend the standard paginal reading model with new technology that it claims could allow people to read more than twice as fast as they do now.
And one of the biggest digital conglomerates is standing firmly behind the development: Samsung’s forthcoming Gear 2 smartwatch and Galaxy S5 smartphone, announced at the Mobile World Congress, will reportedly ship with Spritz in their respective email applications. Spritz says its technology is designed specifically for smaller mobile screens.
The technology scraps traditional “pages” for a small box within which only one word or syllable appears at a time. By design, this minimizes the “saccades,” or lengthy transitions, that our eyes must make between words. It also means that e-readers no longer have to scroll through or magnify lengthy pages of text:
The average adult reader typically clocks 300 words per minute, according to a recent study by Staples. Spritz users, on the other hand, can select speeds between 250 and 1,000 words per minute in increments of 50. At the highest end of this spectrum, a reader might get through an entire novel like Catcher in the Rye in a little over an hour.
Each word is also aligned within the box, or “redicle,” to emphasize its Optimal Reading Point (ORP). Vertical hash marks and a single red letter denote each word’s ORP, or the fragment whereby meaning is most easily processed.
The company also determined that the human eye can only focus on a maximum of 13 characters at once, and so longer words are hyphenated accordingly. Spritz also uses a specially-designed font for maximum readability.
In the FAQ section of its site, the company envisions 'spritzing' for email, texting, social media, closed captioning, digital books and also to embed messages within images or videos.
The company says that the new reading technique is immediately learnable by children and adults alike, with no special training required. Three years of “stealth” research also revealed that retention is just as good with spritzing as it is with traditional reading.