Speed reading tech has its place

by | Mar 28, 2014 | Biz/Tech

Vick Karunakaran
Biz/Tech Reporter

A new speed-reading app promises to help Et Cetera readers get through this story in 30 seconds or less.

Spritz, a Boston-based startup, has developed what it calls a form of “text-streaming technology.”

Spritz’s website says about 80 per cent of a reader’s time is spent moving the eyes from word to words and scanning, while their technology removes eye movement of traditional reading methods by flashing words on the screen at an adjustable speed.

Reading involves two main aspects, said Mary Jo Morris, learning disabilities consultant at Humber North campus. It first decodes words and then the comprehension of their meaning, she said.

The program was remarkable in that it made reading individual words easier but ruled out the rest of the reading process entirely, Morris explained.

“How fast you look at words and how fast you read are not the same thing.”

Humber English Professor Brett Reynolds said he tried the online version of Spritz on the company website.

Speed-reading programs may work if you are skimming through Twitter updates or emails that don’t require a thoughtful response, said Reynolds.

Humber nursing student Jackie Alexander said speed-reading could be good for emails and texting, but may not work for academic reading, where new information takes longer to read.

“The vehicle for meaning in language is the sentence and you never see a sentence in Spritz,” said Morris.

“You can’t keep track of where you are in the document,” said Reynolds. These programs required constant focus and if your mind wandered, orienting yourself back to where you left off may be challenging, he said.

The Spritz system had a button to go back but Reynolds said that control was not adequate.

Morris said speed-reading programs have been around for a long time but she doesn’t know of any that have managed to retain comprehension.

“The best way to become a faster reader is to read a lot,” said Reynolds, noting the writing centres at North and Lakeshore campuses have seminars to help students to learn to effectively study-read, he continued.

The Spritz system is scheduled to be included in the email application for the upcoming Samsung Gear 2 and Galaxy S5 smartphones.