What's the Latest Development?

A new iPad app developed by Latvian programmers claims to be able to increase your reading speed by 30% to 300%. "The app [called Fastr] works by presenting only a few words of text at a time—sufficient that you can take in the words without moving your eyes. A control allows you to set the speed at which words are presented. As your ability improves, not only can you increase the speed, but also the number of words presented." Typically, a normal reader, reading in their own language, can read at about 240 words a minute. But Eldars Loginovs, who helped create the app, says speeds of 600 words a minute are easily achievable.

What's the Big Idea?

Speed reading is a skill that nearly everyone would wish to master, but achieving it requires a lot of hard work. By capitalizing on a computer's ability to break up pages of text into small chunks of words, Fastr does some of the brain's tasks for it. At the speed at which words are presented to the reader, they are no longer being processed as if being heard in a conversation, "but rather as a series of flash cards." While the experience of using the app could not yet be called enjoyable, Mr. Loginovs says readers were able to both retain and understand the material they had been given. 

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