When I got my first i-phone, I remember spending literally hours in the App Store being “wowed” by apps that, even in the short time that has elapsed since, we have come to take for granted. Want to know what a song is? “Shazam” it! Who needs Scrabble when you can play Words with Friends with the whole world? Since those early pioneering days, we have in general become more difficult to please, less susceptible to a wow and complacent about technology, that in many ways, is still in its infancy.
So last week when I saw a link to an article posted by a friend of mine on Facebook that said, “This Insane New App Will Allow You To Read Novels In Under 90 Minutes” my first reaction was a bit underwhelmed. Nevertheless I proceeded to read about Spritz, a revolutionary Samsung app that claims it can increase everyone’s reading speed and comprehension. It uses the “Optimal Recognition Point” (ORP) slightly left of centre of each word – the precise point at which our brain deciphers jumbles of letters. Spritz identifies the ORP of each word, highlights that letter in red and presents all of the ORPs at the same space on the screen. That way, our eyes don’t move at all and we can process information instantly.
Cynically I gave it a try and yes I was indeed “wowed”. Within 5 minutes I was reading at a speed of 500 words per minute, more than twice the average. I am assured that 1,000 WPM is achievable in a short time at which point the 90-minute novel is a possibility. The implications for this are mind boggling. Students cramming for A-levels and IKEA furniture lovers reading instruction manuals will never again have to struggle by. You might actually read a website’s terms and conditions before accepting them. But where does this leave lawyers? How will they ever again be able to charge by the hour for reading important documents? Will they begin to advertise themselves as “Spritzers”? All I can say with certainty is this. If you still like to take books on holiday, you might in future need to pay for some extra luggage weight because in a two-week break, you can probably Spritz War and Peace and the Encyclopedia Britannica and still have time for the latest Harry Potter.