Boomer Technology: New Software Help for Aging Eyes

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Electronic speed-reading without the need for reading glasses prompts new research at SoftOlogy IdeaWorks the developer of RapidReader accelerated reading software.

Software for the Human Operating System

SoftOlogy IdeaWorks™ today announced a new research program to investigate the benefits of their patented RapidReader® accelerated reading software for assisting the visually impaired.

  •     There are 78 million baby boomers in the US
  •     Every day roughly 50,000 Americans turn 50 years old
  •     Worldwide 124 million people have clinically low vision
  •     About 27 million pairs of reading glasses are sold annually in the U.S., to rise approximately 10 per cent each year for the foreseeable future.

The Greek word for "aging eye," presbyopia is the most prevalent eye condition in America, affecting most people after age 40 and everyone by age 71. Presbyopia causes near vision to fade with age, making it difficult to see things up-close. It's estimated that the majority of Baby Boomers either have presbyopia or will develop the condition in the next 10 years. That means an ever-growing population of people tethered to their reading glasses. In fact millions of "over 40's" have multiple pairs of drugstore "readers" scattered around the house, the car and the office.

This demographic is also one of the fastest growing segments of technology users and they increasingly find themselves reaching for their glasses in order to be able to read on the screens of their computers and mobile phones.

RapidReader, a software application originally designed to accelerate reading of electronic documents and web pages on any size screen appears to provide a visual assist as well.

" People initially purchase RapidReader to save time with the large amount reading they have to do on a computer." said Peter McIan the CEO of SoftOlogy IdeaWorks. "What we've discovered from their feedback however is that a lot of them are also able to put aside their reading glasses. This consistent feedback from customers has led us to begin research into how RapidReader may be helpful to those with other forms of compromised vision."

This help for presbyopia and general visual comfort is actually a by-product of the way RapidReader works to accelerate reading speed.

"In simplest terms with RapidReader reading on screen is a lot like watching a movie." says McIan. "You can sit back relax and just watch the flow of text at whatever speed you choose. Each word is treated like a frame of film, displayed in sequence in the center of your field of vision. This means you don't have to move your eyes. Since each word can use the whole screen, it's magnified many times larger. In essence, the computer does the reading work for you. Visually, it's simply much easier to watch a movie than it is to constantly have to move your eyes across line after line of tiny text."

The company sees the potential for RapidReader to help those with more serious visual problems. Today in the US alone there is more than 16 million people whose visual acuity falls under the clinical heading of "Low Vision". These are individuals who have some sight but it is severely impaired. Often this condition is the result of diseases such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and multiple sclerosis for which there currently is no cure. This erosion of vision can have a devastating effect on the life of the sufferer. The simple act of reading becomes an exhausting physical trial. For these people a reading speed of even 30 words per minute can be a hard won achievement.

SoftOlogy IdeaWorks new research program will focus on optimizing RapidReader technology as an assistive reading tool for a wide range of visual deficits. The development process will include studying ways of adapting RapidReader to ergonomic and environmental conditions in a number of test settings such as the workplace, schools and medical rehabilitation facilities.

RapidReader was created from years of clinical research and development focused on eliminating the two principal barriers to higher reading speed. These are the slow, laborious eye movement required to track across the page and the tendency to unnecessarily "sound out" words. After more than 10 years of research at major universities there was a breakthrough. This new method transforms the text into a sort of movie. In this way the tiring work of eye movement and tracking across a page was completely eliminated. The successful result was such that in clinical trials at Johns Hopkins University people with no special training were able to read and comprehend text at rates as high as 1600 words per minute.

SoftOlogy IdeaWorks adapted this technology into a practical software application for everyday reading on a computer or mobile phone screen. Through new research the company hopes to assist a large segment of the population with vision loss to restore their normal reading speed.

About RapidReader:
RapidReader is available for Windows, Mac, Palm and Symbian operating systems. For more information please visit http://www.rapidreader.com

Features:

  •     Selectable speed from 100-950 words per minute
  •     One click integration into MS Word, Internet Explorer, Outlook
  •     "Drag and Drop" support for PDF files
  •     Integrated notes, page marker and Highliter

There is a free trial of all the RapidReader Products available at http://www.rapidreader.com/free_demo.html.
A brief but highly effective tutorial is included during the installation.

About SoftOlogy IdeaWorks:
SoftOlogy IdeaWorks is an invention and intellectual-property company devoted to developing computer technology to accelerate the acquisition of knowledge. We create "Software for the Human Operating System" tm

For more information about the science behind RapidReader, its patented technology, screen shots and backgrounder, please visit the online media kit. http://www.rapidreader.com/media.html

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PETER MCIAN
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