Senaptec is a tech company that has garnered some attention from the sports world in recent years. Launched in 2013, Sepaptec focuses on the connection between motor skills and the brain.
The name "Senaptec" comes from synaptic function, which is the transmission of electrical nerve impulses from one nerve cell to another. Brain function and your body's reaction to the things you see can have a positive impact on your physical performance. This doesn't just apply to athletic activities, but it's also true for tactical military maneuvers as well.
Senaptec says their goal is to improve mental processing to help athletes experience improved physical performance. In order to do this, the company has developed a range of products that are supposed to train the brain and sharpen mental skills.
Many of the products are implemented into training regimes or used alongside standard drill practice. They're meant to change your approach, adding new elements to challenge your mind and body.
The product that Senaptec promotes the most is the Strobe. The Senaptec Strobe is a pair of glasses that are built to provide users with strobe light training. The pitch is that instead of needing to cover a training area with lights, the glasses provide the same effect in a smaller package.
Athletes are encouraged to wear the glasses during their regular training routine. This is supposed to add more complexity to the session and improve results.
At first glance, these glasses look like a standard pair of goggles. They feature large lenses that cover the entire eye, a curved frame that follows the contours of your face, and an elastic strap so you can secure the glasses to your head. The overall design of the glasses is pretty simple, and you likely wouldn’t know what they did if you saw them.
Instead of traditional lenses, the glasses use liquid-crystal lenses. The reason for this is they can go from fully transparent to opaque very quickly.
This is what's going to recreate the strobe effect. Once the Senaptec Strobe glasses are turned on, the liquid crystal lenses will flash based on a predetermined setting. The main function of the glasses is to limit the visual information the wearer receives.
There are some very basic levels of customization that you can use with these glasses as you’re working out. During the first few sessions, athletes can stick to an easier setting. The lenses will flash at a faster rate, providing more visual information as they maneuver the training field.
As an athlete gets used to the Senaptec Strobe, the difficulty can be increased. All this really means is that the glasses will remain dark for long periods of time, forcing the athlete to make decisions and act with less visual information.
The Strobe glasses can connect to a smartphone app via Bluetooth so coaches or trainers can adjust the difficulty settings during a workout. Alternatively, the glasses have buttons on the side so the athlete can make tweaks themselves.
Senaptec makes a lot of claims about what the Strobe glasses can do for athletes. At its core, the glasses are a tool to perform stroboscopic training. The continual flashing of the lenses is said to improve response times, visual acuity, and more.
With stroboscopic training, your brain has to function on very little information. Your mind is forced to fill in the details as you make a split-second decision. Their Strobe glasses can help to improve this process.
In normal games or high-stress situations, you're able to have a clear view of your surroundings. Yet, many athletes aren't quick enough to successfully perform a maneuver based on the events that are unfolding. Some even experience injuries due to a slow synaptic transmission between the brain and body.
Senaptec claims that stroboscopic training with the glasses forces individuals to process information more efficiently. With only a fraction of a second of visual information to work off of, the glasses pose a big challenge. Forcing the brain to work off of limited information is like strength training. With regular training sessions, the athlete's mind is supposed to get better and better at doing its job.
This is often referred to as visual cognition. Essentially, it's an athlete's ability to analyze a scene in front of them and determine the next course of action. Ideally, those who partake in fast-paced sports need to have the best visual cognition skills possible. This is where Senaptec says their Strobe glasses come into play.
With this increased brain efficiency, Senaptec says that athletes can also see improvements in other areas as well. Some of these areas include response time and anticipatory timing.
Having fast response times is crucial in any competitive sports environment. While we often think that response times are instant in simple situations, there's actually a pattern of neural responses that must occur. Your brain must process the visual stimulant you see. Then, you have to decide how you'll respond to it and send signals to your body to make those moves.
Take a look at any slow-motion video of someone getting hit by a ball. They often don't respond to it until several milliseconds later, even if they've been hit by the ball.
Senaptec says that training with the Strobe glasses can increase your response times because your brain is better equipped to send those signals. The same goes for anticipatory timing. However, the difference is that you respond before the stimulant occurs.
Your mind is able to view your surroundings and make a snap judgment of what's about to occur. The timing difference in these situations is very minute. However, it gives your mind and body just enough time to act before the event in question occurs.
Senaptec also claims that their glasses can help with recovery after an injury. According to the company's findings, stroboscopic has helped athletes recover after an injury by improving neuroplasticity.
Typically, players have to cease all physical exercise for a bit to give their ailment time to heal. Unfortunately, the brain starts to "forget" neural connections. This is done to make way for connections that are more useful to the recovery process.
This form of training is said to help retain those connections by forcing the body to move more naturally. By limiting visual information, your body is less afraid to rely on the injured limb. Apparently, this can help to restrengthen those limbs and restore the lost neural connections.
Ultimately, the Strobe glasses can improve a wide range of sensorimotor skills. The focal point of the company's endeavors is to strengthen those connections between an athlete's eyes, brain, and body. While strobe light training has been around for quite some time, Senaptec thinks its Strobe product is a more efficient way of achieving many of those benefits.
Senaptec also offers a product they call the Senaptec Sensory Station. This is essentially a monitor that's mounted on a stand with wheels.
The company says that this station is designed to help athletes improve on various sensory skills that they use during competition.
The main skills it tests are:
The complete test lasts just under half an hour and the athlete is provided with a performance report when they're finished. This report also gives athletes a percentile ranking to show where they stand for various skills.
The Strobe Goggles are a great, inexpensive way for coaches to start vision and cognitive training with their athletes, but the headgear and Sensory Station come with downsides. For starters, the goggles are designed to be worn while doing other types of training, which can be a good thing because it’s not interrupting other workouts. The problem with the goggles is it makes it very difficult to track any sort of progress or decline.
Your athletes want to know they are getting better, whether that’s tracking their max bench or monitoring batting average, and they especially want to beat other athletes. The Strobe goggles lack any information on performance, and so you may struggle with keeping players engaged with neuro-fitness training.
Reflexion provides drills that improve similar areas of the brain, while also providing information and report cards continuously to the user as they are training. The report cards let them see the immediate impact of their training, and even compare how they stack up against others. This combination is ideal for pulling the most out of athletes and keeping them excited about skill training.
You can still do this if you have a Sensory Station with your strobe glasses, but generating a report requires a dedicated 20+ minute assessment every time you want one, and it’s a limitation you should be aware of. Many of these assessments are also oriented more towards optometrists in vision therapy protocol, as their website customer map indicates.
The Sensory Station also lacks a crucial element of this growing industry: evolution. With technology changing so rapidly, have you ever been concerned about buying something that’ll be outdated in three years?
That’s why Reflexion’s service is constantly evolving to provide new tests and drills, offering features like national leaderboards and seasonal competitions. We do this because scientists are only beginning to understand the power of vision training (and the effects are already staggering). As this emerging field continues to develop, you can be confident you’re using the latest and best training techniques as subscribers to our service.
If portability is important to you, Senaptec comes with its challenges. Their Sensory Station is very large and requires a dedicated space for it. On the other hand, the Edge will collapse like an accordion to transport or store, and the setup time takes less than 3 minutes. Senaptec does offer a portable tablet version with limited assessments, but you’ll miss the crucial elements of full-body movement and peripheral vision.
If space is tight and you can’t dismiss peripheral vision, be sure to measure the area you plan to put your new technology in and understand that you’re stuck with that if you chose Senaptec.
Whether you’re just getting started in sports vision or expanding existing offerings, Senaptec can be a good option for you. But like any major decision, be sure to consider the benefits and weakness of their technology so you are confident the features fit your needs.
If you want to learn more about Reflexion so you can weigh your options, head over to this page and get in touch!