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A New Way to Read

We were all taught to read one way as a child. For many of us that was from left to right (unless you’re reading Hebrew), with static words on pages of text. Of course, the medium for reading has recently changed, from books to Kindles and other “e” and “i” devices, but we’re still basically reading lines of text, just on a screen instead of a page. But what happens if you question the very essence of the process of reading itself?

As innovators, we are constantly taught to question the status quo and drive new ways of looking at basic processes, products and services. This is exactly what Boston-based startup Spritz is doing with the basic process of reading. By questioning the way we read and absorb the information, they found key inefficiencies in our current reading practice. Their measurements indicate that while reading we lose a meaningful amount of time by “jumping” from one word to the next and spend only the remaining time recognizing and comprehending each word we read. That wasted time is what the Spritz technology aims to eliminate by streaming text only 13 characters at a time, regardless of word length. While the application of this technology is still in the early stages, this is an inspiring re-invention of an everyday process that hasn’t been rethought for centuries.

We don’t know exactly what inspired this invention, yet we can still “reverse-engineer” the basic method. It’s simple: Look for things that have been unchanged for a very long time, be it decades or centuries. Think about common eating utensils, for example, whether a fork or chop sticks. Then challenge orthodoxy by asking “what if?” What if we changed conventional thinking? What if we started from scratch with the simple problem of lifting food from the plate to our mouth? How many ways can we solve the problem? How can we learn through analogy by looking at how things are moved, or lifted, in other applications, whether with a fork lift, a grappling hook or a rocket ship? How do those who have lost their hands to an accident or disease eat? By learning to ask such questions we learn to stretch our minds and find new solutions in the most obvious places.

Visit the Spritz site to try out the technology. The demo starts you out at 250 wpm, a little higher than the average reading speed. But you can go all the way up to 700 wpm, where the demo tells you that the company’s goal is to change the way the world reads. What do you think? Does this technology have the potential to revolutionize how we read?