Most of us have a hectic life and busy jobs that don’t leave us with enough time to work out or read as much as we would like to. Whenever we have some time on our hands, we are forced to choose: should we burn that fat on the treadmill or dive into the magical world created by the latest novel of our favorite fantasy author? Those of you who have a hard time deciding definitely need to give ReadingMate a try.

ReadingMate is an experimental system designed by scientists from the Purdue University of Indiana with the idea of offering treadmill runners another way to keep their minds occupied besides listening to music or staring blankly at a TV screen.

ReadingMate Lets You Read While Running

The system was developed based on the hypothesis that the greatest obstacle to someone reading while running is the vertical movement of their head. ReadingMate allows treadmill runners to read text in normal-size font on a monitor set up in front of the tread.

The idea is that the text on the screen will be synced with your head’s movements. More specifically, the system uses an infrared camera to capture signals from a pair of LED goggles that the runner will have to wear. The system will track the head’s bobbing movements and the text will be moved accordingly.

ReadingMate’s algorithm does not mimic the motion 100 percent accurately, as it also takes into account the human eye reflex to compensate for the head bobbing and text movements. However, all tests conducted by Purdue researchers indicated that the ReadingMate system allowed runners to read a lot easier than those who did not use the program.

Besides helping treadmill users catch up on their reading while burning calories, scientists say the system could have various other applications in industries where people need to be able to read in shaky environments, such as aviation, construction and transportation. For instance, the program could be used to stabilize information on screen while experiencing aircraft turbulence or heavy shaking.

As for drawbacks, we can only think of one for now: ReadingMate works only with digital texts, so you won’t be able to enjoy your favorite newspaper or paperback novel on the tread!

[Image via Purdue]