Sense Arena unveils VR-based NHL ice hockey training with sensors on sticks

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Sense Arena is launching a virtual reality game for ice hockey training dubbed NHL Sense Arena for the Meta Quest 2 headset.

The game comes from Sense Arena, a studio in Prague, Czech Republic. The game is coming this fall, and Sense Arena has a multi-year agreement with the NFL for the title. Sense Arena has been out in the market since 2018, but this is the first experience that carries the NHL brand name.

With the game, you can strap on sensors including an Oculus Quest hand controller to a hockey stick. Then, while wearing VR goggles that immerse you in a hockey rink, you can swing at virtual pucks with the real stick and the game will translate your movements into the game. The video shows what that experience will be like, and it looks like it has pretty good precision and it requires skill.

This platform will allow hockey enthusiasts to refine their skills, compete, and experience what it’s like to be a part of their favorite NHL franchise within the Sense Arena hockey environment. NHL Sense Arena will offer players and fans an immersive experience by featuring the uniforms and logos of all 32 NHL teams.

Since its launch in 2018, Sense Arena has tried to stay at the forefront of VR technology, providing an off-ice training platform for skaters and goalies of all ages. Sense Arena’s unique VR solution allows users to play hockey in confined spaces and non-traditional environments such as basements, garages, and hotel rooms.

Sense Arena CEO Bob Tetiva said in a statement, “The NHL has some of the most passionate fans in all of sports, and we are thrilled to bring them onto the ice to experience what it feels like to train like an NHL player or goalie. This new partnership will allow hockey lovers of all ages to compete against each other in exciting drills while representing their favorite NHL teams.”

Sense Arena lets you practice hockey in VR.
Sense Arena lets you practice hockey in VR.

As the Official Virtual Reality Training Tool of USA Hockey, Sense Arena has already gained significant recognition within the hockey community. Currently utilized by five individual NHL teams and 14 Men’s and Women’s NCAA Division I hockey programs, Sense Arena has impacted over 24,000 users across 40 countries, with participants completing over two million drills to date.

NHL Sense Arena will be introduced in the fall of 2023 as an upgraded version of Sense Arena’s existing hockey platforms. All current users, including those subscribed to Sense Arena for Hockey prior to the NHL launch, will receive the new NHL platform update for free upon its release.

To access Sense Arena, users can download the Sense Arena app from the Meta app store and subscribe by visiting the official Sense Arena website. The platform is compatible with the Meta Quest 2 and can be paired with standard hockey equipment.

In November 2022, Sense launched its VR tennis training platform, which provides tennis players with enhanced visualization tools geared towards improving the mental aspects of their game such as focus, reaction and anticipation skills. The tennis platform is used by dozens of ATP and WTA pros, including Jack Sock and Jennifer Brady, and recently Sock and WTA pro Linda Fruhvirtova had their real-life serves integrated into the platform so users can practice returning serves from pro players.

In May 2022, Sense Arena announced a $3 million investment round led by J&T Ventures (see attached for the press release). That round brought their total funding to $5.5 million.

Last year, Sense Arena announced a $3 million investment round led by J&T Ventures.

I asked if hockey is popular in Prague, and it turns out that both hockey and tennis are popular there.

On the tennis side, Sense Arena’s global brand ambassador is International Tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova, who was born in Prague and raised in Revnice, which is roughly 20 minutes outside the city.

Talking about the benefits of Sense Arena’s tennis platform Navratilova said: “I played one hour a week when I was growing up because I had to go to Prague to play: one hour a week for four months, five months, whatever. And then I played two hours a week when I was 13, 14 because, again, a trip to Prague and I didn’t have a car. For people that live in the colder climates where you can’t play or it’s too expensive to get the indoor court, etc., or, you can’t even get to the courts to play—growing up, this would have been fantastic.”

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