Health & Healing

What Is Bionic Reading? How It Helps Me To Read, Remember & Focus

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Woman struggling to read on a computer.
Are you struggling to read text online? Bionic could be a helpful tool for you.
Image credit: LumineImages, Shutterstock

Bionic reading is a relatively new reading method you might have seen on TikTok or other social media platforms. I first heard about it when scrolling through Instagram reels. I came across an influencer who described it as a “game changer” for their dyslexia. As a curious researcher and person with dyslexia, I delved into it more. And wow, I was blown away by the results! However, not everyone likes this new reading method. So, let me explain what bionic reading is and how it helps me. Because you never know, it could help you, too.

What Is Dyslexia?

Before I dive into the world of bionic reading, let me touch upon dyslexia and my journey. When people think of dyslexia, they think of letters appearing backward or words reversing on the page, making it difficult to read. Although this is part of it, there’s much more to dyslexia than these symptoms.

Dyslexia is a neurobiological learning disability that affects many areas and skills related to reading, writing, and spelling. The International Dyslexia Association suggests that as many as 15 to 20% of the population have a language-based learning disability. Take a look at this quick video about how dyslexia affects different people.

My Experience With Dyslexia

Many individuals are diagnosed with dyslexia during their early school years. But just like me, many people get a diagnosis in later life. I have always struggled to retain information. So much so that by the time I read a page of text, I often can’t recall the premise of what I’ve just read. If I’m honest, I put it down to having a rubbish memory or being stupid.

As I never struggled with typical dyslexia symptoms such as jumbled letters or words, I never thought it could be dyslexia. None of my teachers recognized my symptoms as dyslexia, either. Not remembering important information made school difficult and exams a nightmare. Because I couldn’t retain information, I would cram revision into one or two nights before an exam, focusing on the most important parts. Revising for weeks beforehand was pointless, but teachers told me I was lazy. 

Despite this, I succeeded in school and earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminology. After that, I joined police school, and after speaking to a lecturer, I was put forward for a dyslexia assessment. I wasn’t going to do it, but it got me out of class, so I did. I received a diagnosis report, and it turned out I had a mild degree of dyslexia. But even then, the educational practitioner had no recommendations for me except for a laptop with transcribing abilities. As much as I was grateful, it didn’t help me.

Emma's Dyslexia Report.
Although the psychologist offered generic support recommendations in the report, these weren’t helpful for me.
Photo by Emma Bra for Safe Smart Living, © Cover Story Media, Inc. 2024.

What Is The Bionic Reading Method?

Fast-forward several years to this Instagram reel, and I have only just discovered bionic reading. So, what is bionic reading? Bionic reading is a new method invented in 2022 by a Swiss typographic designer named Renato Casutt. It utilizes an algorithm that identifies and bolds several initial letters in each word. These bold letter groups are called “fixations.”

Usually, when you read, your eyes scan the entire world. But with bionic reading, your eyes read the fixations, and your brain fills in the final letters. Fixations in text allow many users to read quickly and absorb knowledge faster.

For others, particularly those with dyslexia or attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), this method helps them read more easily. It assists with a steady flow of reading rather than skimming over words so quickly that it prevents their brain from absorbing the information. In turn, this helps to improve their focus and retention of the information. Try reading through the following paragraphs yourself and see what you think.

Bionic Reading example screenshot.
Here is a snippet from the Bionic Reading (BR) website. Each paragraph is the same, but the right paragraph uses the bionic reading format.

Does Bionic Reading Work?

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that bionic reading works. There has been very little research as it was only released in 2022. Although it has been under development for 15 years, this reading method and research are still in the very early stages. Casutt has conducted a study of 12 participants and concedes that the results aren’t conclusive but states there seems to be more support for it than against it. 

How Bionic Reading Helps Me

Despite lacking scientific evidence and plenty of criticism, it helps me read better than “normal text.” Instead of allowing me to read faster, it slows my eyes and brain down, which means I retain more information. As a natural skeptic, I have tried and tested it myself, and I can say for sure it helps me retain much more information immediately after. 

But I’m not a scientist or linguistic specialist and don’t have a test group. So, I can’t comment on whether the information stays in my brain because I’m trying to concentrate more or whether it works in the long run. But so far, it has made my reading journey a much more pleasant experience.

The Bionic Reading App

Bionic Reading products on different screens.
Bionic Reading has a smartphone app and Chrome plugin, and you can use it on tablets, too.
Photo courtesy of Bionic Reading.

So, how can you use bionic reading? Casutt’s Bionic Reading website offers four plans. The first plan is “Discover,” which is free and a great way to test whether bionic reading is for you. You can paste up to 2,000 words at once into their BR converter. You can also download an extension for your browser, which converts text into the bionic reading formula. There are two plans, “Premium” and “Premium Plus,” that range from $1.95 to $9.80 a month. There is also a custom plan for larger businesses. 

Bionic Reading chrome screenshot showing adjustments you can make in the settings.
Here’s an example of the text below in the Bionic Reader Chrome window.

The BR app has a fixation control panel where you can adjust the settings to suit your preferences. You can change the variation of the fixation, either to make it stronger with more letters bolded or weaker with fewer letters. You can also change the number of words that appear with the BR format under the “saccades” section. If you like every word to have bolded letters, choose higher saccades or lower saccades for fewer words. You can also change the opacity of the text.

Although bionic reading helps me massively, the app has two flaws preventing me from signing up for a paid version. 

  1. Not Everything Can Be Converted. PDF files and some websites, especially those with complex coding or structure, cannot be converted. Similarly, not all ebooks are available for BR conversion. Any ebook with Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection is unavailable in the BR format.
  2. Inconsistent Results. I have used the BR Chrome extension, and although most websites can be converted, the fixations aren’t as well laid out as the text converter. The text’s inconsistency hinders more than helps me. Even with the fixation control panel, it isn’t as consistent as the text converter. 

Once BR addresses or overcomes these issues, I’ll definitely sign up. But until then, I’ll continue with my double screen so I don’t forget what I’ve just read. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Some of our readers still have questions about bionic reading and how it might help them. If you don’t see your question below, ask us in the comments, and we’ll answer it for you. 

Who Is Bionic Reading For?

Bionic reading is for anyone. But it is designed for people who wish to read faster or need help reading traditional text. The BR website offers a free plan that allows you to test it before committing to a paid plan. However, there is a mix of reviews on the effectiveness of bionic reading, and it is only helpful for some.

Can You Use Bionic Reading On Amazon Kindle?

Yes, with the paid BR plans, you can read ebooks on your Kindle after downloading the app. However, you can only read DRM-free ebooks. If you’re interested in alternatives ways to read books, check out our guide to Audible.

Are There Other Bionic Reading Apps?

Yes, there are other bionic reading apps. Since Casutt released his BR app, others have followed suit. Some include Bionify, Jiffy Reader, BioReed, and Spreeder. However, I am still looking for a consistent option. 

Inspirational Famous People With Disabilities

Having dyslexia or any other disability doesn’t stop you from achieving success. Check out our list of 15 inspiring famous people with disabilities and their remarkable accomplishments. We also have a guide dedicated to autism and Asperger’s in women, which dives into the world of neurodivergence and other coping mechanisms.

Have you tried the bionic reading method? Do you find it distracting or helpful? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

Why Trust Safe Smart Living

Emma has always enjoyed reading, researching, and writing despite the challenges she has faced. She has come up with her own strategies to counteract her information-retaining struggles. Since having a dyslexia diagnosis, Emma has spent countless hours researching and trying new techniques to help her and her readers. When she is not trying to remember what she has just read, she enjoys going on adventures with her toddler and two rescue dogs. Emma works with a dedicated team to bring the most accurate and up-to-date information to her readers. 

Emma Braby

Emma has been a freelance writer for over seven years and has written for many media outlets on various topics. Emma spent several years traveling Europe while working for a wealth management company managing her client’s portfolios. Before becoming a freelance writer, she graduated with a BA in Criminology and became a Police Officer in the U.K. for almost a decade. She has a lot of hands-on experience in personal and home safety, keeping up to date with the latest tech and investigation. This means nothing gets past her. Emma’s varied professional life and love for finding the truth allow her to research and write about hard-to-understand topics for her readers to digest easily. Emma is a mom to a toddler and two rescue dogs, and when she isn’t writing or keeping up with her three musketeers, she enjoys cooking, embroidery, and watching true crime documentaries.

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