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Cruise Control app changes songs' tempo to match runners' cadence


January 9, 2013

The Cruise Control app changes the tempo of your music to suit your running speed (Photo: Shutterstock)

The Cruise Control app changes the tempo of your music to suit your running speed (Photo: Shutterstock)

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If you listen to music while you run, chances are there a few songs that you particularly like, as their tempo perfectly matches your preferred running speed. Wouldn’t it be neat if your whole music library consisted of songs like that? Well, that’s the idea – or one of them, at least – behind the Cruise Control app. Without changing the pitch of the music, it automatically alters a song’s tempo to turn it into a motivational running soundtrack.

Cruise Control was created by biomedical physiologist Max Donelan and PhD candidate Mark Snaterse, at Canada’s Simon Fraser University. Compatible with iOS devices, it can operate in one of four modes.

In the already-mentioned Cadence mode, you start by selecting the cadence at which you prefer to run. The app will then automatically select songs with a reasonably close rhythm from your library, and then adjust their tempo to play at that cadence.

Free Run mode is essentially the opposite of Cadence. Using your iDevice’s existing sensors, the app determines the cadence at which you’re running at any given time, and continuously adjusts the tempo to match – in Cadence, you run to the beat of the music, whereas in Free Run, the beat changes to keep time with you.

Pace mode is similar to Cadence, except that you start by selecting the stride speed that you’d like to reach. The app then monitors your pace and gradually increases the tempo, until you reach that speed.

Finally, there’s Heart Rate mode. It’s like Pace, except that you’re being guided towards a target heart rate as opposed to a running speed. An ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart heart rate monitor is required.

According to Donelan, the non-funny-sounding tempo changes are made possible via high-quality time stretching algorithms. “This process is like the inverse of auto-tune, which changes pitch without changing tempo,” he told us. “The end result is we can change the tempo of the music on your phone without any Alvin, Simon and Theodores [The Chipmunks] entering the mix. And, no beat track is required.”

Users can also do things such as creating playlists, keeping track of favorite songs, and viewing records of stats from previous runs.

Cruise Control is available on iTunes, for US$4.99.

Source: Simon Fraser University

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Wow, this is one of the coolest apps I've heard of. Almost makes me want to get an iPhone. I'm forever trying to match songs to running but it is hard and there are songs that I just love to hear even though they are a bit too slow or fast. I love the pace mode. When I'm training for a marathon I struggle to keep my pace where I want it and struggle to train up to my selected pace.


My App is only .99 cents and was released last year & it does the same exact thing and more! Find a link to my App page here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/marx-runner/id558507755?ls=1&mt=8

Mark Blum

Very neat idea!

@Mark Blum I just checked out your app description. Nice app too. It sounds like you indeed have some functionality in your app that overlaps with this app. But the pace and heart rate control are not in your description, correct me if I'm wrong. As far as I understand that's the innovative part of this app.

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