Sportswear giant Nike has developed a special set of glasses that are meant to enhance an athlete’s physical reaction time and visual performance. Backed by recent research from Duke University, the SPARQ Sensory Performance system assesses an individual’s needs and develops a training program to ‘fine tune’ their sensory skills.
The method first uses a ‘Sensory Station’ to evaluate 10 sport-relevant visual and sensory performance skills. Using data from this assessment and a comparison of their performance against others in the same sport, athletes are given a series of recommended training programs using Nike’s SPARQ Vapor Strobe Eyewear.
These glasses use a strobe-like effect to block the wearer’s vision for short periods of time. While training using these classes, the user’s brain learns to anticipate what’s coming when vision is blocked, resulting in improved reaction time, visual acuity and sense of timing. The glasses are fully integrated into customized training programs and have variable strobe speeds. The system is already in use at professional and collegiate athletic programs, with a global rollout of the system is expected soon.
In addition to physical performance improvements, a study from Duke University found that athletes who had used the SPARQ system had heightened visual short-term memory retention; those who had used it were able to better remember letters quickly flashed on a screen. While it may not help you cram for a final, it seems that this system could have applications beyond sports. It is another example of the future of performance training being increasingly defined by the use of innovative technology over increased strength and endurance training.