Bionic Reading: promises better, faster and more focused reading

Martin Brinkmann
May 30, 2022
Firefox add-ons, Google Chrome extensions

Bionic Reading is a reading system that is designed to improve reading through the use of typographic highlights. The system highlights parts of words in texts to guide the human eye and have the human brain complete words automatically to improve reading speed and text understanding.

Jiffy Reader is one of the first browser extensions that brings the reading system to web browsers. It is an open source extension that is already listed on the Chrome Web Store. Users may check out the GitHub repository, as it is hosting the source code and extension files for Chromium, Firefox and Opera.

Note: we could not get the Firefox add-on to install, as Firefox returned a "corrupt" error during the installation process.

The Chrome extension installs fine in all Chromium-based browsers, including Chrome and Edge. The extension needs access to all pages that get opened in the browser. It is disabled by default and displays a configuration window when it is activated in the browser's toolbar.

The interface has a toggle to turn the reading system on or off. Since it is blocked from running automatically by default, hitting the toggle will enable the system on the active webpage. There is a checkbox to enable it by default, but this enables it on all types of sites, including non-article sites or pages.

Once enabled, bionic reading bolds parts of all of the words on the site; this may look like a badly formatted site to most users on first try. The system needs time to get accustomed to it.

The extension includes customization options to modify the reading system for all sites. The three main options let users change the saccades interval, the fixations strength, and the line height.

The saccades interval is set to 0 by default, which means that parts of most words are highlighted.  You may change its value to a positive integer to skip more words. Setting this to 1 will highlight every second or third word only in the text, which may improve readability for some readers.

The fixations strength parameter defines the strength of the highlighting. Setting it to a lower value will reduce the number of highlighted characters in the text, setting it to a higher value may increase it. Line height finally changes the height of lines in the article.

Closing Words

Bionic Reading is an interesting reading system that may not work for everyone. Some may dislike the chaotic display of text, others may find it to reduce the reading speed because of the seemingly random nature of the highlighting.

Chromium-based users may give it a try to see if it improves their reading comprehension and speed.

Now You: do you use speed reading or reading comprehension systems? (via Caschy)

Bionic Reading: promises better, faster and more focused reading
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Bionic Reading: promises better, faster and more focused reading
Bionic Reading is a reading system that is designed to improve reading through the use of typographic highlights.
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  1. Anonymous said on May 31, 2022 at 1:25 am

    Some people might find these helpful but for me it’s quite distracting reading sentences with bolded sections here and there.

  2. Clairvaux said on May 30, 2022 at 5:15 pm

    Alternatively, one could learn to read.

    Spectacularly useless program. There is no need for the brain to complete words automatically. They are already complete. Just read them.

  3. kalmly said on May 30, 2022 at 4:28 pm

    Sounds like a very bad idea to me, and one that can – perhaps inadvertently – skew one’s understanding of what is being read. Glad that it can be toggled off easily. As for it being Russian, well I’m just not very afraid of Russian programmers. It isn’t the Russians who are impacting my life right now.

    — Love Tom Hawack’s comments.

  4. SFer said on May 30, 2022 at 4:14 pm

    1) Found another BR f/Chrome extension,
    from Switzerland:

    BR author’s web pg:

    2) Also, this ext f/ Chrome:

    All have a small footprint.
    Maybe several others, too.

    Martin –
    can you review and compare
    which one is best,
    in your opinion?

    Your advice
    is highly appreciated!.


  5. Tom Hawack said on May 30, 2022 at 11:32 am

    Bionic reading. Wow. Is it that in a world where everything is fast post-effects include that of reading at a traditional tempo, too slow, similar to walking at a normal pace after exiting a moving-sidewalk : odd feelings of being a snail?

    Fast-food, fast-viewing, fast-reading. We have accelerators for videos (because no need to waste time when the brains understands it all at faster deployment?), accelerators for eating (why waste time calmly around a table when a burger and a coke fills in 10 minutes?), accelerators for moving around (why walk to the baker a mile away when the car is available?).

    Maybe have we forgotten a time a pace of the past to the point of finding it hard to concentrate ow what allows less easily speed : the fact of reading. That would mean that bionic reading is the medicine.

    Do I use speed reading or reading comprehension systems? I prefer to try by myself to imagine for the time being a bubble in which I return to another time-space continuum, calm, zen for the sake of reading independently of a stressing speedy environment. When finished, exit the bubble… and run, run, run, back to productivity, faster hence more, run, run, run for your life, buddy, run.

  6. hg said on May 30, 2022 at 10:31 am

    It’s Russian.

    1. Anonymous said on June 28, 2022 at 8:23 am

      No bro. It is actually alien.
      Sickness is natural to life and humans certainly don’t need to take medication.
      We have legs and don’t need to use fords invention to get around quicker
      The Russians probably developed that 737 and disguised it as American.
      Don’t ever try to be fast, but that bolt guy wouldn’t listen to reason.

      No on asked you but since you volunteered come and explain why it is Russian.
      We want to know if you sense reason or just sense of rubbish or special troll who is aching to unlock the next level troll achievements?

    2. Oscar Gomez said on June 1, 2022 at 11:40 am

      And it’s free on Chrome Web Store so no one’s actually supporting anyone.

    3. Tom Hawack said on May 30, 2022 at 12:50 pm

      It’s Russian, and? And what? Dostoevsky was Russian, Vodka is Russian. Will I forbid myself from reading and drinking Russian? I understand that an invaded country may have the human reaction of bashing anything related to the invader but for my part i consider this as a sad implication of sufferance and dramas. Sad but normal. But far from the war zone I believe another of my privileged situation is to be able to not mistake the crimes of a State with its inhabitants, its culture. I have nothing against Russian people, I have a terrible state of mind and state of feelings against its administration, only.

      When the States invaded Koweit then Irak within the lie of hidden mass-destruction weapons, France opposed at the very United Nations and followed French bashing and French fries renamed Liberty fries at the White House canteens. Is this what we want in a civilized world?

    4. Gerard said on May 30, 2022 at 11:21 am

      A Russian ‘reading system’, approved by the authorities? So to ‘guide the human eye’ and ‘the human brain’, war and invading a neighbouring country becomes special military operation and butchering civilians, bombing hospitals, schools, residential areas, etc. becomes a peacekeeping mission to liberate said country from nazis?

      No wonder Martin could not get the Firefox add-on to install and got a ‘corrupt’ error, while the Chrome extension installs fine. Google always had less scruples.


      1. NeonRobot said on May 30, 2022 at 10:53 pm

        People, please don’t mix plain Russian people with totalitarian bunker rat and his propaganda slaves.

        There are many neat russian projects on github, for eg IceCat Esr and Iceweasel for win64.

        Note that there are sufficient people in Russia who are against war.

        Hard times ahead. Z sh#t is corrupting people’s minds.

      2. Tom Hawack said on May 31, 2022 at 11:32 am

        So true. Personally I appreciate as well not having to hear/read (I’ve heard it too often) the following comment which betrays one’s deep beliefs with the expression of its opposite. Replace [SCAN] with whatever denomination of color, religion, sexual orientation etc. etc …

        “I don’t have anything against [SCAN], I even know some [SCAN] who are very nice people”

        Really? How touching.

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