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System Allows Multitasking Runners to Read on a Treadmill

A man on a treadmill reading a screen.

Purdue industrial engineering doctoral candidate Bum chul Kwon demonstrates a new system that allows treadmill users to read while they run.

Credit: Mark Simons/Purdue University

Purdue University researchers have developed ReadingMate, a system that adjusts text on a monitor to counteract the bobbing motion of a runner's head so that the text appears still.

It is difficult to run and read at the same time "because the relative location of the eyes to the text is vigorously changing, and our eyes try to constantly adjust to such changes, which is burdensome," says Purdue professor Ji Soo Yi.

The user wears goggles equipped with infrared light-emitting diodes (LEDs); an infrared camera captures the LEDs, tracking the runner's bobbing head. The researchers developed an algorithm that moves the text in unison with the head movement, taking into consideration the human reflex to compensate for motion.

"You can't just move the text exactly in synch with the head because the eye is already doing what it can to compensate, so you have to account for that compensation by moving the text slightly out of synch with the head motion," says Purdue's Bum chul Kwon.

The researchers say the system also could be used by heavy equipment workers and aircraft pilots. "Both may experience heavy shaking and turbulence while reading information from a display," Kwon notes.

From Purdue University News
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