Reading on the Run: A New Treadmill Lets You Do It

runningrunningI can't tell you how many times I've thought about multitasking at the gym. Getting some work done while running on the treadmill AND child care? It'd be a dream come true for any busy mom. Unfortunately the execution of such a plan is much less realistic than the fantasy I've conjured up in my head. I don't know about you, but reading on the treadmill makes me almost as nauseas as trying to read in a moving car. Ugh, no thank you. I know treadmill desks are all the rage, but really, how do you get anything done without going cross-eyed and having your stomach do flips?

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Well, there just might be a solution. The ReadingMate, developed at Purdue University, adjusts text on a monitor so that it appears still as you run on the treadmill. The way it was developed is actually pretty cool. Engineering researches at Purdue wanted to make up for the vertical bobbing motion of a runner's head, so they strapped on goggles with infrared LEDs to 15 runner's heads and had them count how many "F's" appeared in lines of normal-sized text. A camera captures the LEDs and coordinates with the runner's movement, moving the text to compensate for the motion and allowing the user to read without added strain.

While being able to read and run at the same time sounds pretty useful to me in my everyday ordinary life, there are some extraordinary possibilities for the use of such technology. Allowing for compensation of vibration and turbulence may be able to help airline pilots and equipment operators to better read displays and dashboards.

Now if only my gym would hop on board with treadmill desks and reading bikes!

-By Heather Neal
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