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Bionic Reading: What do you think?

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I don't know, man.

I read the page about it, try to understand how this “method” works but, looks like just a new thing that somehow receives a spotlight. Don't have any evidence, study, or research. Only thing they say is that your brain reads faster than your eyes, and this technique that they sold as a tool help you reads better end faster.

Some test I made by myself (nothing rigorous or making a deep research) trying to read some couple texts, I realized that don't work to me, that make me read slower than regular text, actually.

About everything I read about readability a good color contrast, typeface, kerning, line height, and line width work better than any magic tool to help to read, and a good moment of focus help so much more.

If anybody has some points to show me how this works and why, I'm here to listen.



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Riccardo Sartori

In an era of variable fonts, I would have expected the bold text to gradually merge weight-wise with the rest, instead of cutting each word in half.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Andreas Baumert

I agree to Ralf and would like to add one point: It is like plain language or easy-to-read-language (einfache Sprache oder leichte Sprache). 

It all depends on the author's knowledge about the reader because reading abilities differ in some aspects. THE reader is an illusion.



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Just a quick answer!

I wrote elsewhere this: "‘Evidence-based design’ means acquiring reliable knowledge to make design choices to achieve the best possible outcomes, based on hypotheses that can be proved wrong.

This approach is in my opinion useful for everything and deeply humble: you try to understand if a statement is proved by the facts, if it is proved with a high probability of being correct, you use it to design. If it is proved wrong, you do not use it to design and you are free to do as you please. If there is not enough evidence, suspend judgements and be cautious in making claims. This model is not in contradiction with inventiveness, it just tells us how to avoid known errors." 

In this case of bionic reading everything is based on the abduction: 

Fixations falls mostly on the first half of the word, if we highlight the first half of the word, the reading should improve. 

Under logical point of view the structure is this

a->c (in and effective reading process fixations falls mostly on the first half of the word)

     c (let's highlight the first half of the word)


a      (effective reading) 

that's an interesting hypothesis to be tested, but not a proven evidence through induction or a deduction from the literature.  

BTW in my opinion there is also a misunderstanding in Bionic Reading of the position of the optimal viewing position, which is not constant and not in the beginning of the word. Highlighting the space between words through a change of weight might be useful in parafoveal preprocessing and in the saccades activation processes. So I fear there would a problem of internal validity in a possible experiment.

Here there are some basic references on the optimal viewing position: 

The "classics":

J.K O'Regan, A Levy-Schoen, J Pynte, B Brugaillere. Convenient fixation location within isolated words of different length and structure. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 10 (2) (1984), pp. 250-257

J.K O'Regan, A Lévy-Schoen. Eye movement strategy and tactics in word recognition and reading. M Coltheart (Ed.), Attention and performance XII: the psychology of reading, Erlbaum, Hillsdale NJ (1987), pp. 363-383

Some other findings:

Clark, J. J., & O'regan, J. K. (1999). Word ambiguity and the optimal viewing position in reading. Vision Research, 39(4), 843-857.

Ducrot, S., Pynte, J., Ghio, A., & Lété, B. (2013). Visual and linguistic determinants of the eyes' initial fixation position in reading development. Acta psychologica, 142(3), 287-298.

Edited by lperondi
grammatical mistakes, italian-like sentences
  • very interesting! 1
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Why don't we discuss of the following article? It could have a lot more impact on design:


Wallace, S., Bylinskii, Z., Dobres, J., Kerr, B., Berlow, S., Treitman, R., ... & Sawyer, B. D. (2022). Towards Individuated Reading Experiences: Different Fonts Increase Reading Speed for Different Individuals. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), 29(4), 1-56.

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