This is the biggest thing to happen to reading since paper

Take it one word at a time.
Take it one word at a time.
Image: Reuters/Mark Makela
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Spritz is an app that feeds you emails one word at a time, supposedly to make you read faster and more efficiently. Not a new concept, but the developers say the app will have a unique focus on centering each word on a single point. So basically, your eyes will never have to move.

I was skeptical. After all, we read words using the context of other words around them—especially when we’re on the web. Some people even unintentionally speed read by skimming and scanning entire paragraphs at once. As someone who has no trouble zipping through an email, I was sure that Spritz would drive me up the wall.

Sure enough, the lowest text speed (250 words per minute) shown on the website felt maddeningly slow:

But then I tried 350 words per minute, and it was…tolerable, at least. It felt pretty much like reading normally would, only our eyes didn’t have to move.

It’s the highest speed shown on the website, clocking in at 500 words per minute, that’s really exciting. Check it out:

The words are so fast it feels almost subliminal. And when Spritz is released (supposedly with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Gear 2), the developers say it will run at speeds up to 1000 words per minute.

Besides the lack of eye movement, there’s another trick that Spritz might be pulling. A big speed reading technique is getting rid of subvocalization, or your internal reading monologue. It slows you down. Just like typists used to have to wait for a keystroke to finish before their next move, subvocalization makes you finish a letter sound before moving on to the next one. Using Spritz, I noticed that I couldn’t sound out words fast enough to keep up. But since the rest of the sentence just kept coming, I read it anyway.

Not exactly a pleasant sensation, but a fascinating method of forced speed reading. And the app will make even more sense for smartwatches than for phones—with a tiny screen, one word at a time is just perfect. Maybe one day we’ll stop moaning about the age of the e-book and start reminiscing about the days when we got to look at whole sentences.