Technology is changing the way we work, live and play…and now quite possibly, the way we read. We are all familiar with the fact we can are able to place hundreds of books in an e-reader and carry a library’s worth of material around but finding time to read them all is a different story. And it's totally understandable: our average attention spans are getting shorter and the amount of pulls for our attention are increasing. Of course, there are numerous applications that provide a summary of the book's essential points and concepts, but dry bullet points are not the greatest method to understand the author's thoughts. So, how can we improve our reading speed and comprehension?

Girl with a tablet at school
Girl reading e-book on tablet reader in bed at home

The answer to this question might be quite simple (and free!). A Swiss typography designer discovered that bolding the first parts of words enables the eyes to focus exclusively on them, allowing the brain to immediately fill in the rest of the word, which significantly saves reader's time and can also help with comprehension. The method is called Bionic reading and allows users to read quicker and comprehend more information. Bionic reading may sound highly technical, but it isn't far outside of traditional reading experiences, so there’s no need to learn anything new.

I tested bionic reading with a few friends who have ADHD and they claimed it was a lot easier to comprehend and focus for an entire passage. They found that the bolding could help guide them through the passages and they bounced back and forth on sentences a lot less. While my test was entirely unscientific, my hunch is that there's more to the story and bionic reading might have merit in its claims.

How does it work?

Bionic reading enhances reading by navigating the eyes across text using artificial fixation spots. It is a technology that highlights small bits of words to make them easier to read, allowing your brain to better comprehend phrases. These "fixations" can be adjusted so that you can pick how much of a word is bolded and how much contrast there is between it and the rest of the text. To keep it short, some words are shown in bold text. As a result, bionic reading facilitates reading by guiding the eyes across text using artificial fixation spots. Because your brain "reads" faster than your eyes, it saves time. 


Digital e-book reader holding by woman at cozy home

Is bionic reading worth trying?

Here is the summary of benefits:

To begin with, bionic-formatted text allows you to read quicker, absorb more information, and maintain focus for longer periods of time. It isn't necessarily intended to turn you into a fast reader. Its purpose is to encourage you to read and comprehend more. 

Any contemporary e-reading device or app may read Bionic books. There is no need to purchase and install a separate app. To read bionic-formatted books, you don't need to move to another app. The original container of the reading instrument you use is preserved in bionic books. 

They don't alter the reading experience; rather, they improve it. The concept underlying bionic reading is simple: bold formatting is applied to text. As a result, there's a strong probability that both eBook fans and eBook platforms may embrace bionic reading. And Google has already adopted it, incorporating bionic reading as a Google Chrome extension.


Girl student with a tablet
Closeup hand holding programing computer software

Bionic Reading is a
Google Chrome Extension

The extension is now ready for download on Chrome, as revealed by Bionic Reading on Twitter. After installing the Chrome extension, you may utilise it to convert any webpage into a Bionic Reading tab for your usage. When you click the BR button in your browser, a special page appears, comparable to the Reader view in most browsers, with settings at the top to alter font sizes, and other things.

So is Bionic reading a fad? Maybe. Is it worth a shot and further exploration? I think so.

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