Thursday, November 09, 2006

Absorbing more information


The Register reports: [edited]

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.

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 acknowledges 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.
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16 comments:

conradgempf said...

Ever tried one-word at a time flashing programs? Speed great; comprehension rubbish. Context is everything, my friend. The word in relation to other words, what belongs in what paragraph, in what numbered list....

There have been plenty of other software implementations, it's a trivial program to write -- it's one of the first programming projects my son took on. There's an excellent reason why no other company has made a market break-through.

brett jordan said...

So, do you like the idea, or not Conrad?

Can Opener Boy said...

Sounds

Can Opener Boy said...

worth

Can Opener Boy said...

a

Can Opener Boy said...

try

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if

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they

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make

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an

Can Opener Boy said...

inexpensive

Can Opener Boy said...

Mac

Can Opener Boy said...

version

Can Opener Boy said...

~ Keith

brett jordan said...

aww... you boys!

Major Look said...

Pictures are always better than words ;-)

 
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