Spreed News tries to redefine reading

by Mathew on July 14, 2008 · 5 comments

A Toronto company called Spreed Inc. launched its mobile newsreader for the Apple iPhone today, and if you’re interested in how written content gets consumed on a mobile device I encourage you to take a look. Spreed co-founder Anthony Novac and head of technology Suhail Mirza gave me a demo of the software recently, and I tried out an early version of the software on an iPhone in the company’s downtown office, and I have to say (and I told Anthony this) that I’m not convinced Spreed is going to be the right solution for everyone. That said, it is an interesting approach, and the mobile app is just the first in what the company hopes will be a series of services for mobile and desktop.

Anthony is a former co-founder and CEO of several online gambling companies, including Trident Gaming and 1x1inc, which developed a peer-to-peer gambling service called Betbug (his partner in that venture, John O’Malia, is now managing director of industry leader Partygaming). Spreed, however, evolved from discussions that Novac had with a childhood friend who taught himself how to speed-read, and along the way taught Anthony — who is dyslexic — how to read faster too. Based on research into reading and comprehension, Spreed developed a kind of “flashcard” approach to reading on a mobile device, with groups of words flashed on the screen in discrete bunches.

Although it’s possible to crank up the speed as high as 600 words per minute, I still found that I wasn’t pulling in as much information as I thought I could looking at a regular printed blog post or news article. Anthony and Suhail said this was likely because I’m not the average reader, and the reading I do involves skimming over paragraphs in order to get the sense of an article rather than reading every word, which is probably true. Someone trying to read and comprehend long pieces of writing, they said, would likely find over time that Spreed could improve the speed at which they could do that.

In any case, it is an intriguing application, and I will be interested to see what else Anthony and his team come up with.

  • Pingback: Spreed for Speed | Mark Evans

  • http://www.SpreedNews.com Anthony Novac

    Thanks for the mention Mathew. Just to be clear, the average reader tends to read around 220-250 words per minute. On desktops that number degrades down to 180 wpm and on mobile devices can go as low as 110 wpm. Spreed can get someone reading at 300-400 wpm within a minute of using the product (on average). More importantly, we're talking about reading with no decrease in comprehension. In fact, testing to date suggests increased comprehension. While some people may use Spreed to blast through a document really fast (600wpm+) just to get the jist, we're not really focused at altering or eliminating skimming (your self-professed strategy). Spreed is about leveraging the power of the computer to effectively make you “smarter” by improving reading speed and comprehension. As we roll out more tools, in particular a desktop version that allows people (think University students) to upload large Word and PDF files into a Spreed reader, I think the product's efficacy will become more obvious.

    Hope this makes things a bit more clear. Oh yeah, and by the way, my former partner is John O'Malia (not Tony).

    Regards,

    Anthony Novac
    CEO Spreed Inc

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks for the clarification, Anthony — and sorry about your former
    partner's name. I will fix.

  • http://www.SpreedNews.com Anthony Novac

    Thanks for the mention Mathew. Just to be clear, the average reader tends to read around 220-250 words per minute. On desktops that number degrades down to 180 wpm and on mobile devices can go as low as 110 wpm. Spreed can get someone reading at 300-400 wpm within a minute of using the product (on average). More importantly, we're talking about reading with no decrease in comprehension. In fact, testing to date suggests increased comprehension. While some people may use Spreed to blast through a document really fast (600wpm+) just to get the jist, we're not really focused at altering or eliminating skimming (your self-professed strategy). Spreed is about leveraging the power of the computer to effectively make you “smarter” by improving reading speed and comprehension. As we roll out more tools, in particular a desktop version that allows people (think University students) to upload large Word and PDF files into a Spreed reader, I think the product's efficacy will become more obvious.

    Hope this makes things a bit more clear. Oh yeah, and by the way, my former partner is John O'Malia (not Tony).

    Regards,

    Anthony Novac
    CEO Spreed Inc

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks for the clarification, Anthony — and sorry about your former
    partner's name. I will fix.

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