Several years ago I wrote WordUp, a Java based Tachistoscope. It was an easy project to finish, but I didn’t think the final product was of much use to anybody. To my surprise, WordUp quickly became the page with the most hits on my site (not that that is saying much). At the time, I thought that it would be useful to have a portable version for devices with small screens, but the only portable device I owned was a low-end PalmPilot, whose black and white screen had a very low refresh rate.
Now a company has developed a similar idea. Icue is a Java based tachistoscope for mobile phones. It seems that the program itself is free, but you have to buy the texts to read, which does seem to limit the utility of it somewhat. My experience is that long texts (novels, for example) are very tiring to read one word at a time. I suspect that Icue has missed its opportunity, 5 years ago it could have been useful but today’s cell phones have high resolution screens that can display many lines on clearly readable text, easily enough to use a traditional reader application. Also, the Java VMs on today’s cell phones are powerful enough run WordUp and read whatever files they have.
Icue only came to my attention today. A writer is doing a story for Technology Review and contacted me to ask me opinion, under the mistaken assumption that I had written the Wikipedia article on tachistoscopes (I hadn’t but it does link to WordUp). Thats right, I am a now an official media expert.
I wonder if my name will be used.