An Invention For The Age of Connectivity: Rapid Reader

Bigger, better, and a lot more complicated than the Information Age, success in the Age of Connectivity depends more on our capacity to learn what is needed for tomorrow, than what we know today. As soon as information is available, our computers, hand-helds, and cell-phones make it accessible. We need to retrieve it and act on it; that is critical to our livelihoods and to our lives.

Speed reading is now a necessary skill. But did you know that your reading speed on a computer screen is about one-third to one-half slower than reading text on paper?

The average person can read text on paper at 150 - 250 words per minute (wpm), but when the same text is on a computer screen, his reading rate falls to 100 - 130 wpm. On a hand-held electronic device, average reading speed is just above a crawl at 40 wpm!

Rapid Reader® 6.0 is a quickly downloadable program that can have you reading electronic information on any of these devices at 500 wpm within one to three minutes. No course, just a short program demo to watch before you start. You control the speed yourself, from 100 wpm to 950 wpm on Mac's and PC ’s. ($29.95 - $49.95)

Watch this very short demo and you’ll see Rapid Reader in action at 500 wpm.

On the actual Rapid Reader you can modify the speed yourself, working upward slowly from a lower speed to a faster one. The free trial download gives you a better idea of how that might work. When you acquaint yourself in this gradual way, you'll be surprised when 500 wpm seems sluggish to you!

In Rapid Reader, you can read in two modes: word and paragraph. You can easily shift from word to paragraph view to, say, move your cursor back or forward in the text. You can also highlight, flag, and make notations in either mode, which makes it perfect for research, studying, and text editing.

You can read virtually any text you access on your computer with Rapid Reader; however, with the 6.0 Pro version, you can “embed” Rapid Reader into Microsoft Word, Outlook email, and Internet Explorer. Additionally, PDF files can be accessed by dragging a file to the Rapid Reader desktop icon and any file can be cut and pasted into Word or saved as a PDF and be read speedily.

Now, on your hand-held, remember that the average reading rate is 40 wpm? Well, if you have a Palm or Nokia Mobile, you can increase that to 800 wpm by using Rapid Reader for Palm ($24.95) or Rapid Reader for Nokia Communicator ($29.95).

Development of Rapid Reader

Research from Johns Hopkins University conducted more than 20 years ago, lead to the development of the Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP). This reading system solved the problems of eye movement and scrolling; it flashed the text on a screen in individual words in the same place on the screen, so the eyes don’t move.

The new and patented element of Rapid Reader is Speech Mimic technology. It brings the rhythm and cadence of spoken language to the rhythm of the words as they are flashed on the screen. Instead of flashing words at an even rate, as on RSVP programs, Rapid Reader employs the staccatos and legatos, just as they occur in natural speech. Speech Mimic adds to our ability to comprehend and retain what we read.

It was a natural progression for Peter McIan, inventor of the Rapid Reader, to move from the spoken and sung word to the read word, as both, he says, need to be communicated rhythmically for best understanding. McIan, formerly a major Hollywood record producer, sound engineer, and songwriter with a few Grammy Awards and published books under his belt, has been, what I call, “plagued” with invention ideas. He says he records his ideas in his inventor’s notebook, but has to re-focus on his current main goal: the furtherance of Rapid Reader.

Peter McIan has taken Rapid Reader from seed to fruition with his team at SoftOlogy IdeaWorks. The first version of the speed reading software was released in late 2000 and was used primarily in education settings. New and improved, Rapid Reader 6.0 was released more than a year ago, and though McIan is still focused on educational settings, his software compatible adaptations to the program make Rapid Reader a nifty consumer product for MACs, PCs, and hand-helds.

McIan has honed the product these last seven years by diligently collecting user feedback and testing Rapid Reader in new environments. For example, Rapid Reader has been demonstrated to have positive educational results among disabled populations, such as autistic, mentally impaired, and low vision populations. Reportedly, some have even thrown away their reading glasses!

Now available in English, Italian, French, and Spanish, McIan and his dream team at SoftOtology want to expand the number of languages as well as broaden Rapid Reader’s software scope to “every major platform,” enabling us to quickly learn what is needed for tomorrow.

Free trial downloads are available here. And after you install Rapid Reader, make sure you check out all the freebies available from SoftOlogy.

Myra Per-Lee
Featured Blogger




Jan 30, 2008
by Anonymous (not verified)

Rapid Reader

This is very interesting; the Evelyn Wood Speed Reading program of the technology age! As someone who likes and needs to read a lot I'm very interested in checking this out. Thanks for the useful find.