The Nike Glasses in action (Credit: Duke University)
Researchers from Duke University conducted a study which showed that using a special eyewear can increase the user visual short-term memory retention for at least 24 hours. The study used a newly developed Nike strobe eyewear intended to increase the performance of athletes.
Last year Nike announced the Nike SPARQ Vapor Strobe – a new type of sport training eyewear designed to assess, analyze and improve an athlete’s visual and sensory performance. -
The first step of using the SPARQ Vapor Strobe requires the athlete to be assessed by a special Nike SPARQ Sensory Station, where he or she uses an interactive touch screen device, to evaluate the athlete on 10 sport-relevant visual and sensory performance skills. The results are use to create a special training program. -
During training, the SPARQ Vapor Strobe blocks or more accurately disrupts the athlete’s vision using a flicker effect (strobe – hence the name) that can be varied in speed – helping an athlete develop quicker reaction times and motor skills. The SPARQ can improve reaction times by switching between clear and blocked vision, which trains the brain to anticipate what is coming when the eyes are blocked.
Former studies (also conducted by Duke Universityresearchers) already showed that training with the Nike SPARQ Vapor Strobes improved athlete’s ability to pick up subtle motion cues, visual information processing as well as timing of motion. -
In the current study, participants taken from the Duke University sports teams completed a computer-based visual memory test before and after the physical activities. The study found that participants who trained with the strobe eyewear also gained a boost in visual memory abilities. Nike’s SPARQ Vapor Strobe Goggles -
The athletes completed a memory test that required them to note the identity of eight letters of the alphabet that were briefly displayed on a computer. After a short delay, participants were asked to recall one of the eight letters. Initially the athletes had to recall letters which immediately after they disappeared, but on more difficult trials, the prompt came as late as 2.5 seconds following the display. Because participants did not know which letter they would be asked to recall, they had to retain all of the items in memory (filling in their entire working memory or “memory buffer”). -
According to Greg Appelbaum, assistant professor of psychiatry at Duke University: “Humans have a memory buffer in their brain that keeps information alive for a certain short-lived period. Wearing the strobe eyewear during the physical training seemed to boost the ability to retain information in this buffer.”
In the study it was discovered that participants gain a boost to their visual memory retention after each test which was found to last 24 hours (this was unknown until the current study). -
Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.