Text is typically rendered on screen to resemble a page in a book, but this is not optimal for the user or for the screen. Psychologists of reading have examined the manor in which we extract visual information from written text. SmartScroll seeks to tap into this pool of knowledge to engineer a more natural and efficient form of text presentation.
The idea was born out of assisting those with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) to read. For such individuals, making accurate eye movements is difficult. Therefore, if the text can mimic the eye movements they would make when reading the given text, they have no need to move their eyes. In a pilot trial, 84% of participants with AMD reported a preference for SmartScroll over the aid they habitually use, and the same percentage showed an increase in reading speed.
Normally sighted users also see a benefit from SmartScroll. Scrolling text using SmartScroll as opposed to continuous scrolling saw a fivefold increase in reading speed. Further research is being done to investigate the potential benefit for dyslexic readers. Can this novel approach to reading transform their interaction with the written word?
In traditional text presentation, no information on the user's interaction with the text is fed back into the system. SmartScroll allows word-by-word data to be collected, allowing for an improved reading experience. By remotely monitoring reading habits in the visually impaired, it may be possible to detect changes in vision.
A 3 month period of market validation is underway as part of the Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe) programme, funded by Innovate UK.