Robot Readamatic Helps Slow Readers Pick Up The Pace
It may be cliche, but whenever I see a device like this, I feel certain dystopian willies. Maybe it's too much post-apocalyptic scifi, or perhaps one too many viewings of "Brazil", but heavy and unsympathetic learning aides leave me wondering when the robotic tutorial overlords are getting here.
This device hails from a pre-apocalyptic 1963. The Readamatic Pacer is designed to increase reading speed. Twirl the knob to the number of words per minute you want to read, and the mechanical arm reveals a line at a time. I'm a pretty fast reader, so I tried the old boy out. I was able to keep up with its top speed I'm proud to say, but the whirring of the Readamatic was distracting. Perhaps its due to age, but even in top form I've got to think that the screw drive and metal slat scraping across the page might be more than just a bit off-putting.
Interesting detail is that there are three scales on the speed dial. These are to accommodate different sizes of books (smaller book = fewer words per page). According to the manual, it's designed to speed up the rate of slow or lazy readers, or can also be used as a way to retrain readers to slow down if they are breezing too fast and have poor comprehension. Makes sense, though perhaps the fact I've never seen one of these before might be testimony to its not having been a great answer. Decades later, we still don't employ speed-reading robot tutors as far as I know. Or perhaps there's some robo-speedreader e-book app I don't know about?