Belinda Huang ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Soon people will no longer be able to use a lack of time as an excuse not to read. Spritz, a Boston-based technology start up company, has developed software that makes reading long texts a much faster and easier task.
The technology was unveiled earlier this month at the Mobile World Congress in Spain. The company claims that with their software any reader can read a regular novel in under ninety minutes, and comprehend it all just as well as normal, if not more so. The excitement revolving around Spritz is within the new possibilities inherent in its application. If readers can consume material faster, better, easier, and then also have a better understanding of our own reading processes, people can maximize efficiency, both as students and as casual readers. In an industry that is continually accused of being out of date or irrelevant, Spritz could open new opportunities for the publishing industry especially in the growing field of online publishing. It could be used to further quantify the way people interact with online text, making for more specific, targeted advertising and data models.
But how does the program work? Spritz allows reading to occur with fewer distractions, which helps to maximize efficiency. Described as a “treadmill for your eyes,” the program provides a controlled and steady environment for reading. A red line splits each word at their natural balancing point, helping the reader recognize the physical letters faster. As the text scrolls word-by-word, reading becomes easier and faster. Full comprehension at the maximum speed, 1000 words per minute (wpm), is rare, but possible. According to co-founder Frank Waldman, most people can increase their reading speed to around 400 wpm with full comprehension by using Spritz – for comparison, the average college student reads at around 300 wpm. Though it doesn’t seem particularly “revolutionary,” the software has the potential to really change the way readers of all types interact with text.
One way that this technology could affect reading habits is in enabling a greater variety of mediums through which people can read. Spritz is being considered as a way to make reading feasible on very small screens such as the potential iWatch or the newly announced Android Wear. It can also be used on the Kindle or smartphone, on the laptop or on the iPad. Although Spritz does take reading even further away from the traditional paper reading experience, further digitizing the process, this is not necessarily to the detriment of readers.
Interestingly, Spritz will also allow better data collection about the way people read and comprehend information. With the program, writers and publishers can find out more about how their language conveys information to the reader: which sections of text are consumed quickly, how often they are read, and how much is consumed at a time. This could be helpful for websites and blogs, which can’t currently measure how much of the on screen text is actually being read by the website visitors.
Granted, this technology probably won’t help a student easily digest an eight-pound, Intro to Psychology hard copy textbook, but as reading becomes an even more digitized medium Spritz will definitely make student’s lives easier when eBooks and the like become the norm for the classroom. It also has the potential to make pleasure reading easier and more productive – armed with Spritz, busy vacationers will be able to read a whole novel in a single afternoon at the beach.
So how soon will Spritz be available? Spritz opened its program to software developers starting on March 21st, starting with the Android, which means interested readers could potentially see apps or websites using the technology within the month.