I’m that guy that watches YouTube videos at 1.5x speed and at 2x for those slow talkers. Time is a limited resource and whenever I watch a 10 minute video in 6.5 minutes, I feel like I’m gaming the system.
I do the same with podcasts, I never listen at normal speed. I have been doing this for years and am so used to fast audio that normal speed feels like half speed to me now. I’ll confess, I find myself scoffing at the peasants consuming 10 minute media in ten minutes.
Being that guy, my curiosity was piqued when some people claimed we could hack reading as well. Said there is a way to read faster and all it took was the click of a button like the video playback setting.
I was hooked the moment I saw that name – bionic you say. Bionic reading aims to improve reading by changing the font weight of the first letters of a word. In other words, by bolding the first half or so of each word.
This sentence has gone through the bionic reading treatment and this is how it looks.
The logic is that the human mind already hacks words. We don’t actually read words one letter at a time, we glance and assume the word. Research has shown that if the first and last letters are maintained we can easily read a jumbled word.
Here’s an excerpt of that famous message:
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.
The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm.
Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh?
The Bionic reading system is building on this and confirming that the human brain really does store learnt words and so just a few letters are enough to recognise words.
They say by guiding the brain by highlighting the first letters of a word, the brain can quickly identify a word and move on to the next. The team that developed this think it will lead to ‘a more in-depth reading and understanding of written content.’
My 2 cents
I’d have thought highlighting the first and last letters would work better if the Cambridge research is anything to go by.
i. This sentence has gone through my version of bionic reading and this is how it looks.
ii. This sentence has gone through the bionic reading treatment and this is how it looks.
iii. This sentence has not gone through any bionic reading treatment and this is how it looks.
You decide what’s easier to read.
If you want to give bionic reading a try, there are browser extensions you can use. Jiffy reader is the one I tried and you can check it out here.
All you have to do is install the extension and turn the feature on and you’re good to go.
Jiffy reader says bionic reading is almost like if reading had a 1.5x button. Well with language like that they reeled this sucker in.
I’ve been testing it out and I gotta confess, I still don’t know what to think. It’s still a little jarring for me and maybe I need time to get used to it.
Bionic reading is not for everyone and I understand that. Even if it doesn’t work out for me I’m glad some are seeing improved reading and comprehension speeds. It’s like the playback speed option on YouTube, it doesn’t work for some but it’s a game changer for me. To each their own, I guess.