Spritz promises to boost reading speeds to a breakneck 500 words a minute - will it enhance our enjoyment of literature?

 

When I heard this week that reading would "never be the same again", I was worried. But I'd forgotten that there are two kinds of "it'll never be the same again".

A structural engineer might tell you that your kitchen floor will "never be the same again" while solemnly pointing out catastrophic subsidence, while someone selling cleaning products might say the same thing with an enthusiastic grin. And sure enough, this new development in reading is billed as a good thing.

Spritz, a new way of displaying text on electronic devices, aims to boost our reading speeds from about 220 words per minute to 500 and beyond by showing us just one rapidly changing word at a time. The prospect of implementing this efficiency measure made me feel slightly giddy, so I went to spritzinc.com to try it.

Spritz is by no means the first project designed to speed up our reading; there are already a clutch of apps for iPhone and Android, and systems such as RSVP (Rapid Serial Visual Presentation) have been around since the 1970s. But Spritz's primary aim, and the key to its success, is to stop our eyes from wandering about unnecessarily. Having established that words have an optimal recognition point, or ORP, Spritz uses proprietary technology to keep that ORP in the same place, marked by a red letter and a vertical line as the words change. "Relax," says the tutorial. "Look at the red character, and trust that your brain retains the whole word."

It's possible that you could get used to this method of reading with some practice, but initially it feels like an eye test being performed by a hyperactive optician, with words being hosed into your face as you wonder how much longer it's going to take. Look away for a second to check your watch or attend to an itch behind your right knee, and you'll miss eight words which might have been important. As a method of absorbing information quickly, it's a genuine eye-opener (blinking, incidentally, is compatible with Spritz) and maybe it's a valiant way of battling against our rapidly depleting attention spans. But it certainly doesn't feel relaxing. "Reading is inherently time consuming," says the website – to which I thought, well, so is a two-week holiday in the Seychelles, but I don't have the urge to cram that into four frenetic hours. It's enough to give the founders of the Slow Movement an aneurysm.

The perpetually imminent craze for wearable technology will, of course, demand that more text be shoehorned into an ever smaller space; those of us who yearn to stand at a bus stop reading Moby Dick on our watches will obviously need to be catered for. But, for most people, the act of reading is not an onerous one. It's a leisure activity, and however passionately the founders of Spritz may point out that excessive eye movement is a terrible mis-allocation of our time, it's not an issue that has had people constructing e-petitions or marching on Parliament Square. According to Spritz's statistics, 20 per cent of our reading time is spent processing content and 80 per cent moving our eyes – but I'd challenge these numbers; I'd say that about 40 per cent is spent looking out of the window, or having a little think, and that's just fine.

The website also poses the question: "What could you do if you doubled your reading speed?" But, when I ponder that, I think of a large pile of unprocessed accounts and my dirty kitchen floor. So just let me read. It's a lovely thing to do, after all.

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    C# asp.net Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

    SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

    £30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

    Project Manager (infrastructure, upgrades, rollouts)

    £38000 - £45000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

    Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

    £50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments