Feeds

Read novels on your mobile super-quick

Software makes your brain recognise words by shape, not sound

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

A British company claims that its software enables users to at least double their reading speed by making use of the way the brain interprets text. It says reading speeds as high as 1200 words per minute (WPM) are possible, compared with a typical speed off the page of 150 WPM.

BookMuncher uses a technique called Rapid Serial Visualisation Presentation (RSVP) which displays a document word by word mid-screen. The idea is that as the words flash by, your brain recognises their shape or outline, rather than trying to decode their sound or spelling.

"The science behind it is word shape recognition, rather than the relationship between the letters," said BookMuncher development director Jon Bunston. "As you increase the amount you read, you recognise more word shapes and can read faster. It can get you reading at 300 WPM in hours or 600 to 700 within days."

He added that as well as a £20 program for PCs, capable of handling Word or RTF documents and text files, BookMuncher has developed a version for mobile phones. He said the technology is a good fit for small screens which aren't well suited to displaying continuous text.

"We think reading on your phone could become a mass market, like music on phones. On a mobile, the main advantage is accessibility rather than speed, though. Probably 300 WPM will be the limit."

The software is the latest attempt to commercialise research done over the last two decades or so into reading speed. What the researchers found is that there are two blocks to faster reading - how long it takes us to move our eyes across the page or screen, and our tendency to subvocalise - reading the text silently to ourselves.

RSVP breaks those blocks by displaying words sequentially at a speed too fast for us to read out.

Bunston said that as well as letting you read technical documents faster, perhaps scanning chunks now and then as you get spare moments, BookMuncher works equally well for novels. It could also help dyslexics, he suggested.

"It's not really reading, it's absorbing," he said. "The traditional way of reading left to right, top to bottom, goes out of the window. You don't subvocalise either - that's what limits us to 150 or 200 WPM."

Other RSVP software includes RocketReader, ReallyEasyReader, a free downloadable applet for reading HTML files called FlashReader, Speed Reader Plus for PocketPCs, and a commercial multi-platform package called Rapid Reader.

Bunston acknowledged that BookMuncher is not unique, but pointed out that none of its rivals had achieved a breakthrough in the market. He claimed that the key to that could be getting RSVP onto mobile phones, with e-books as downloadable content alongside games and MP3s. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?