New Treadmill Tech Will Make Your Run More Realistic

A new technology from researchers at Ohio State allows runners to feel as if they are speeding up or slowing down naturally. The treadmill-based tech takes sonar readings of the user’s position on the belt and can tell when to crank things up or slow things down.

Created by Steven T. Devor, associate professor of kinesiology, and former graduate student Cory Scheadler, the system simulates outside running.

“If you’re running outside and you want to speed up or slow down, there is no button to push. It is the same with this new automated treadmill,” said Devor.

The system uses off-the-shelf components and the team has patented the method. They expect to commercialize it soon.

From the release:

The sonar is set up behind the treadmill and aimed at the runner’s back, just between the shoulder blades.When the runner is in the middle of the running belt (measured from front to back), the speed of the treadmill stays the same. If the sonar senses that the runner is moving farther away, that means the runner is picking up speed and the sonar microcontroller sends a signal to the treadmill to speed up the belt in varying increments of speed. The speed increases until the runner returns to the middle of the belt.

“So many people call it the ‘dreadmill.’ It is boring and monotonous. An automated treadmill makes the experience much more natural and you can just run without thinking of what pace you want to set,” said Devor.