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System allows for reading on a treadmill by 'bouncing' text

April 16, 2013 at 7:14 PM   |   Comments

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., April 16 (UPI) -- Researchers at Purdue University in Indiana say a reading innovation will allow treadmill users to work their bodies and brains at the same time.

Engineers at Purdue have developed a system called ReadingMate that adjusts text on a monitor accommodate the bobbing motion of a treadmill user's head so that text appears to be still, the university said in a release Tuesday.

"Not many people can run and read at the same time," industrial engineering Professor Ji Soo Yi said. "This is 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."

Determining the primary impediment to reading while running is the head's vertical movement, the researchers came up with a system to allow a treadmill user to read normal-size text on a small monitor mounted in front of the machine.

In tests, volunteers on treadmills wore goggles equipped with infrared LEDs and an infrared camera that tracked the runners' bobbing heads.

The researchers worked to create an algorithm to correctly move the text to compensate.

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

The system also might be useful for people like heavy equipment operators and aircraft pilots, the researchers said.

"Both may experience heavy shaking and turbulence while reading information from a display," Kwon said. "ReadingMate could stabilize the content in such cases."

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