Soon you will be able to read the entire Harry Potter or the Game of Thrones in less time than it takes to watch the entire TV show – that’s the intention of Spritz, a company developing speed reading technology. Spritz offers readers to process text one flashing word at the time.
“80% of the time you spend reading, you’re just moving your eyes.” According to the company, only 20% of the time you spend reading goes directly to processing the meaning of the content while the rest is just wasted in the eyeball movement as your eyes travel from one word to the next. Spritz wants to save that precious time by converting the text you choose on a webpage, email, or e-book into as specifically aligned stream of single words. Here’s what it looks like at the speed of 250 words in a minute.
While the website of the company suggests a lot of users are comfortable working with 1000 words per minute, the highest speed that is available for sampling is 500 words per minute.
Spritz is not the first company to suggest this technique of reading one word at the time to speed up the reading process. We will dwell on a number of speed reading apps available for Android and iOS devices. What makes Spritz work is positioning each word in its “optimal recognition point” – according to the company, readers eyes fix on one point in each word. It is this point that triggers reader’s recognition of the word’s meaning. Some other applications and browser add-ons do not readjust the position of words, so that the optimal recognition point is always at the center of your vision. Hence, the reader has to move his eyes and split seconds are lost on every word as the eyeballs scan the words to relocate the optimal recognition point.
In addition to speeding up the reading process, Spritz notes that showing no more than 13 characters at a time significantly saves screen space, which is especially important for mobile devices.
Spritz marks the optimal recognition point in red to make it immediately identifiable. It is perfectly suited for mobile reading because it makes tackling large amounts of text on smaller screens by eliminating the need for zooming and scrolling. Currently, multiplatform Spritz apps are under development since the company has released SDK for developers and we are waiting impatiently for the apps to be rolled out.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 and Gear 2 will ship with a pre-installed Spritz, but the company is looking to integrate with current developers and content publishers.
A Faster Reader [Android]
There are several quality Spritz-like apps for Android, and while we’re waiting for the original Spritz to come, we can resort to one of these apps to increase the speed of our reading.
A Faster Reader by BaseTIS SL is a free application with a possibility to upgrade to a premium version via in-app purchases for $.99. Once you install it, you will be able to highlight text in an application that allows sharing, and choose A Faster Reader from the drop-down menu. You will see a small window above the text, which immediately starts displaying words one at a time. If you want the words to be displayed faster, you will need to upgrade to premium version because the free version can only display words at 300 words per minute speed. There are other perks in upgrading to premium, such as different color schemes and a progress bar.
Speed Read inspired by Spritz [Android]
This application is using the same sharing feature to speed up reading of the selected text. The display area is located at the top of the screen, and as in the case with Spritz, it displays words, one by one. The full text version of the text you are reading is displayed under the flashing words, highlighting each one of them simultaneously, as it appears above. Depending on your reading preferences, this feature may be either annoying or very convenient.
Speed Reader [Android]
In case the reader of your choice does not support sharing text with another application on your phone, and you want to be able to open local files instead, this speeding app is for you. It is free and has a donation version, if you’re feeling generous. As of now, Speed Reader supports TXT, PDF, EPUB, HTML, and XML files, and you have several settings in the apps that allow you to customize color scheme, the speed and the number of words to display at a time. The app is easy and intuitive, and you only need to tap the Browse button to select the file on your device. On the flipside, this application has a major drawback – you are unable to see at what point you are in the text and starting from specific points is next to impossible, so bookmarking is a very welcome addition in the next update.
If reading a lot of information online in your mobile browser is of concern to you, you might want to check out this chrome extension that offers experience similar to Spritz’s. It tries to eliminate sub-vocalization, allowing you to read faster. With this extension enabled, you can select the text you would like to read and long press on the selected text to choose “Spreed selected text,” and you’ll see a pop-up displaying one word at a time. You can tweak the speed and amount of words displayed at one time, as well as the font size to adjust to your reading preferences. This add-on might lack some design polish, but it gets the job done.
Syllable is as speed-reading technique that teaches you how to read faster by pulling articles from your Instapaper, Pocket and clipboard. This app relies on reducing sub-vocalization, which is the process of pronouncing the words in your head. This application does this by pacing quickly through the articles, not giving you a chance to read the words aloud in your head. This application also offers you another technique it calls “chunking,” where you read only certain words in the text that contain the main connotation, or the meaning. It is a training app and if you would like to learn how to speed read even outside your smartphone, you should give it a try since it is conveniently integrated with Pocket and Instapaper. At least, you can go through that backlog of articles you have saved for reading later as you try to master the technique.
In case you have a backlog of things you want to read saved in Readability, Instapaper or Pocket, check out Outread. It will help you go through all of those loads of unread articles and at the same time, learn speed-reading.
This app is similar to Syllable because it uses the same techniques – reducing sub-vocalization, which does not allow you to speak the words out loud in your head. This app touches the sweet spot, allowing you to comprehend everything you read without pronouncing the words in your head, and that’s the application’s aim – to teach you how to do that.
Share Outread with your Pocket, Readibility or Instapaper, so that it imports your reading lists. In addition, you can add a bookmarklet to Safari to be able to save articles directly to Outread. In addition, you will be able to add links and custom text to it. Here’s how it works – it begins by highlighting words in the paragraph, and increases speed little by little as you start reading. This application has an easily accessible preference tab, where you can tweak the speed of reading and the range of words that are highlighted. We strongly recommend you sort out the settings to customize options to suit your reading preferences better because there are some nifty options, such as light and dark themes and different fonts and sizes of the text. The latest edition added support for iPads, and a large number of file formats, except the e-books.
Once you start researching on the speed-reading techniques and technologies, there is a great deal of contradicting opinions suggesting that speed-reading impedes comprehension capabilities, so we suggest you decide it for yourself whether these techniques work for you.