Bionic reading: Tech that’s changing the way we read

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Lucy Grogan - Senior Copywriter

The human brain is an amazing thing, capable of reading over 900 words per minute. But read that sentence again and you might find you’ve missed a key understanding.

Confused? I’ll give you a hint – it’s about the word ‘capable.’

Our brains may well be ‘capable’ of reading at 900 words a minute, but what’s the comprehension like?

I’m willing to bet it’s limited.

Background research is a huge part of my role as a copywriter. I read a lot of very long, very technical content on an almost daily basis and have to make sure I fully understand the topic at hand. Without this level of comprehension, I can’t connect with audiences in a way that makes any impact.

What’s more, it’s easy for readers to see when this has happened. Copy becomes dry and shallow through a lack of substance and – ultimately – it’s a pointless read.

So, when I found out about Bionic Reading and how it’s changing the way online content is understood, you can bet your 900 words a minute I jumped straight to Google for some (light) research.

Bionic Reading is a Swiss tech start-up that’s developed a revolutionary new way of comprehending the written word, supported by 13 years of research.

Its software changes the format of online text to guide the eye and allow the brain to remember previously learned words more quickly through fixation points, like this:

Image credit: Bionic Reading

With three key factors interplaying within the software – Fixation, Saccade and Opacity – typefaces of any text existing online can be uploaded to the Bionic Reading app via the sharing of a link so that the web page can be read in the new format. The software is easily installed onto phones and reading devices, and it only takes a minute to download and set up.

Although the tool’s settings are already configured for optimal readability, the user is also able to adjust the volume of fixation points, or even their opacity, depending on their own requirements.

“Bionic Reading allows your eyes to ‘skip’ over the words and text. Similar to a surfboard that only glides on the tip of the waves.”

The way Bionic Reading alters text is a revelation for those who struggle to stay focused when confronted with a wall of copy to read and digest. And it’s got the reviews to back it up, with one happy user reporting that this new format had allowed them to read papers for their gruelling Ph.D. research in record time.

It could also prove to be a life-changing invention for those who struggle with a neurodiversity, such as dyslexia. And although there’s already a font format in existence to support this (Dyslexie), it never hurts to have as many options as possible, especially if you’re in a research-heavy career like myself.

What does it mean for the world of tech?

Given its capability to make reading and digesting online content easier and more enjoyable, the Bionic Reading software could hold real value for organisations looking to provide another way for employees to optimise their own ways of working. Who knows, maybe they’d even see an uptick in performance or efficiency.

While its format isn’t for everyone, Bionic Reading presents a game-changing efficiency solution for readers, researchers and writers alike. I know I’ll be trialling it in my never-ending quest to make research-heavy days more interesting.

Maybe 900 words a minute doesn’t seem so unachievable after all…

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