This Speedy 'Bionic Reading' Hack Has Gone Viral, But Is It Any Good?

A new approach to speed reading has people excited – but divided over whether it actually works.
Milan Markovic via Getty Images

What kind of reader are you? Do your eyes race from side to side as you absorb the information on the page? Or are you a dweller who takes a while to absorb every word – and page?

Whatever your style, there’s a new hack for speed reading doing the rounds on Twitter right now. It’s called ‘bionic reading’ and it’s really dividing people.

Typography expert Renato Casutt from Switzerland has been working on the new approach, which guides readers through text using “artificial fixation points”.

By bolding or highlighting the letters at the beginning of a word, a reader’s brain can identify them with less effort and concentration. In theory, this speeds up how quickly you read as you don’t need to focus on the whole of every word.

This is because, as the Bionic Reading researchers explain, your brain actually reads faster than your eye, having stored up a dictionary of words from all the past reading you’ve ever done.

As the website puts it: “Your brain is a super computer and does a very good job at reading. Bionic Reading revises texts so that the most concise parts of words are highlighted. This guides the eye over the text and the brain remembers previously learned words more quickly.

An example has been shared on Twitter, with a regular and ‘bionic’ text side by side to demonstrate how we would normally read text and how the new technique might us.

Try reading the words below yourself.

People are certainly impressed, with several different posts that have shared the hack going viral overnight – but many readers are also conflicted about whether the new technique is a good or bad thing.

Some welcomed the new approach. “It’s incredible how reading this feels like finally unlocking 100% of your brain”, wrote one Twitter user, who suggested someone at Twitter should “turn it on”, too.

But others worried that speed reading in this way was “robotic”, would take the joy out of reading, and might stop you from retaining any of the information.

One even called it a “sickening technoperversion”.

Some Twitter users said it could help those with cognitive issues, such as dyslexia or ADHD, while others suggested it would do the opposite and make it more difficult, as they may likely already substitute a “close enough” word, which could change the whole context of what was being read.

“Not sure if this helps me, but I don’t think it hinders me, and I wouldn’t mind reading text augmented this way. And if it helps some people a lot, it’s worth implementing as an option, especially since it’s so simple,” another wrote.

If you’re worried about this font form taking over all your reading material, don’t fret, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.

“Bionic reading” is still in the early stages of development and is something you can access via a paid app.

So unless you really really want it, you can carry on reading as normal.

Slowly does it.

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