Is Reading 1,000 Words a Minute Too Dang Fast?

In the course of the average work day, most of us have a lot of reading material to get through. Industry news, favorite blogs, emails, etc. can take up a considerable chunk of our productive time. A Boston start-up called Spritz is working on technology to help.

“With Spritz, which is coming to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Samsung Gear 2 watch, words appear one at a time in rapid succession,” explains Ajoy Kumar Singha in Testing Circus. “This allows you to read at speeds of between 250 and 1,000 words per minute. The typical college-level reader reads at a pace of between 200 and 400 a minute.”

The technology is based on optical science, so that’s cool. We tried it out and were able to read and comprehend at 700 words per minute without too much trouble. (If you try it, work up gradually…your brain does need a few seconds to adapt.)

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So the technology could be useful, but will go mainstream? Maybe for internal documents and such, but I can’t imagine publishers using this to any large extent. For one, it basically eliminates any and all graphic elements on the page, including digital ads. For readers, and smartwatch wearers, that might be a good thing, but cutting off that revenue stream seems illogical for publishers. Maybe it could fly as a subscription-based thing for scholarly articles and longer content? It will be interesting to watch and see how this new technology might impact the publishing industry.

Still, the tech and the science behind this are cool. And it was fun to ramp up the speed and let the mind work in a new way.

Interestingly, after spending a few minutes using the Spritz gadget, I’m having a bit of trouble writing this, and I’m making more than my usual share of errors while I type. My brain definitely switched gears and is having a tough time shifting back. For that reason alone I’m a bit skeptical. And oddly nauseous.

Maybe some things just aren’t meant to happen at the speed of light.