Sense Arena, a virtual reality ice hockey training platform that works with five NHL teams, announced two new college partnerships with Boston College and Arizona State University. The BC men’s and women’s hockey teams will now use Sense Arena during practices, while the ASU agreement makes Sense Arena the cognitive training partner of the Sun Devils men’s hockey team.
Boston College and ASU join Harvard, Cornell, Northeastern and Quinnipiac as all six NCAA Division I schools partner with Sense Arena. Players wear an Oculus VR headset to access the Sense Arena app which simulates a variety of hockey drills for skills such as passing, shooting, reaction time, checking and goalkeeping. Players wearing the helmet hold a hockey stick mounted with Sense Arena’s sensor so that their actual stick movements are transferred into the practice game. The players on the Arizona Coyotes used Sense Arena to help them train while rehabilitating injuries, and the company’s other NHL partners include the New Jersey Devils, Los Angeles Kings and Las Vegas Golden Knights.
“We have a lot more use from younger athletes looking for an edge to take that last step to becoming pros,” Sense Arena founder and CEO Bob Tetiva told SportTechie. “From a marketing and business point of view, obviously you want to have the NHL contracts, it creates credibility. But from a sports perspective, it’s even more important to bring technology to college and high school teams. [because] this is where we can really influence their development. And then it will benefit in a few years when those guys sign their NHL contracts, they’ll have the routine and happily use our system on an ongoing basis.
Sense Arena plans to add a sixth NHL partner ahead of the upcoming season and the company raised $3 million in May to fuel the expansion of its VR cognitive training products into other sports. Prague-based Sense Arena also plans to develop VR-based entertainment games in several sports to complement its cognitive training products.
BC will receive four Sense Arena systems and ASU will receive two to start. Sense Arena is currently only available for Meta’s Oculus headsets, but Tetitva plans to expand compatibility to headsets from PlayStation, Apple and Pico, which is owned by TikTok parent company ByteDance, soon.
“Everyone is looking forward to what Apple is going to do. There are rumors that they should release their helmets in early 2023, which from a marketing point of view doesn’t really make sense to miss the Christmas market,” says Tetiva. ” But let’s see. We know from history that every time they release something, it really took the technology to the next level. So I totally understand their point of view that they want to provide a very advanced solution. And then we’ll just adopt it.