Purdue University's ReadingMate makes the classic reading-running combo a little easier

Universities aren't just places for students to cut classes and enjoy themselves before eventually embarking on careers. They are also places where problems get solved, like the one facing runners who find it hard to read on the jog. That bane is the focus of a group of researchers at Purdue University, who are working on a system called ReadingMate, which moves text on a display in reaction to the bobbing head of a runner to stabilize what's being seen. The screen is sent information from a pair of infrared LED-equipped glasses, but it's not as simple as shifting text in time with head movement -- your eyes are performing corrections of their own, so the words dance slightly out of sync with your noggin to take this into account. It's performed well in testing, and could have applications beyond the gym, such as in heavy machinery and aircraft, where vibration can hamper reading ability in important situations. Those uses make the most sense -- we don't often find ourselves eager to attack that next Twilight chapter during a near-death treadmill experience.