Press Release: VR medical training enabled by Oxford Uni-backed LIFE app

New virtual reality medical training app LIFE uses HTC VIVE Focus Plus for training doctors and nurses to save lives.

14 November 2019 – Nairobi, Kenya – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Life-saving Instruction for Emergences (LIFE), a virtual reality (VR) medical training platform developed by doctors, nurses and researchers at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP) in Kenya and Oxford University with support from HTC, has officially launched today.

LIFE allows healthcare workers to enter a realistic 3D virtual hospital on their own smartphones or using a virtual reality headset, such as the HTC Vive. Using the app, they can practice life-saving skills on virtual patients so that they are ready to act quickly and effectively in a real emergency. In low-resource settings such as Kenya, access to simulation training can be difficult and expensive so using VR for training could enable more healthcare workers to receive the high-quality training they need to save lives.

The LIFE project was selected as a grant recipient of the “VR for Impact” initiative, sponsored by HTC VIVE, at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The momentum from the support has enabled the LIFE team to create a new VR version of the LIFE app that runs on the ENGAGE platform, a virtual reality education platform developed by Immersive VR Education, and uses the new HTC VIVE Focus Plus headset.

The VR version of LIFE follows the launch of the smartphone version in April. The LIFE smartphone app is now being rolled out across Kenya through partnerships with medical and nursing schools and professional organisations such as the Kenya Paediatric Association. The platform has been extensively tested in beta, with thousands of healthcare workers already using the app on their smartphones.

Conrad Wanyama, a nurse from the KWTRP involved with the project and speaking at COINN about LIFE, said:

“We took a human-centred design approach to developing LIFE. We worked closely with nurses and doctors who have to deal with these types of emergencies and allowed them to test lots of early versions of the app.”

Naomi Muinga, a PhD student at the KWTRP, added:

“The nurses who tried out the system really appreciated how realistic the experience was. They could enter a 3D virtual hospital and practice resuscitating a newborn baby who was not breathing and carry out the steps needed to save her life.”

Dr Chris Paton, the lead researcher for LIFE from the University of Oxford, commented:

“The rapid adoption of smartphones by thousands of healthcare workers across Africa means that they now have the chance to access training that would have been too expensive to access using traditional face-to-face courses. By using immersive VR simulation training in combination with a personal smartphone app, the LIFE project has the potential to support healthcare worker training at scale.”

Kris Severson, Head of VR for Impact, HTC VIVE, stated:

“Through VR for Impact, we’re supporting developers who harness the immersive capabilities of VR to create positive change in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The Life project is the next evolution in medical training in Africa and a perfect example of how VR can enact real change with tangible results in our communities worldwide.”


For further details, images and videos, or requests for interview, please contact:

Nairobi, Kenya

Cynthia Mauncho, Head of Communication, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust, Research Programme

T: +254780547440 | E:

United Kingdom

Gregg Bayes-Brown, Marketing and Communications Manager, Oxford University Innovation

T: +44 (0)1865 280867 | E:

LIFE Project, Oxford

Dr Chris Paton, Group Head for Global Health Informatics at the Centre for Tropical Medicine, Oxford University

T: +44 (0)7552 698058 | E:


Naomi Muinga and Chris Paton recently published a paper for the Pathways to Prosperity Commission about how the LIFE team tested the VIVE Virtual Reality equipment. You can find that here:

Notes to Editors

About LIFE

Life-saving Instruction for Emergences (LIFE) is a virtual reality and smartphone app delivering medical training through mobile and VR platforms. The platform was initially developed by clinicians and researchers at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme and the University of Oxford, and its development has been supported by HTC, Oxford University Innovation, GCRF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, Saving Lives at Birth and Médecins Sans Frontières.

LIFE is available to download for free from for smartphones and Virtual Reality headsets or search for “Life-saving Instruction for Emergencies” on the Google Play Store.

Follow the LIFE project on twitter

About the University of Oxford

The Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health at the University of Oxford is a collection of research groups permanently based in Oxford, in Africa (Kenya, Uganda and DRC) and in Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia and Nepal). Aiming to tackle infectious diseases, from malaria, TB and HIV to neglected tropical diseases and emerging infections, our research ranges from clinical studies to behavioural sciences, with capacity building integral to all of our activities.

Oxford University has been placed number 1 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for the fourth year running, and at the heart of this success is our ground-breaking research and innovation.

Oxford is world-famous for research excellence and home to some of the most talented people from across the globe. Our work helps the lives of millions, solving real-world problems through a huge network of partnerships and collaborations. The breadth and interdisciplinary nature of our research sparks imaginative and inventive insights and solutions.

Through its research commercialisation arm, Oxford University Innovation, Oxford is the highest university patent filer in the UK and is ranked first in the UK for university spinouts, having created more than 170 new companies since 1988. Over a third of these companies have been created in the past three years.

About the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)-Wellcome Trust Research Programme 

The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)-Wellcome Trust Research Programme was established in 1989, as a partnership between KEMRI, Oxford University and the Wellcome Trust. The Programme conducts basic, epidemiological, clinical, and health systems research in parallel, with results feeding directly into local and international health policy. KEMRI- Wellcome aims to expand the country’s capacity to conduct multidisciplinary research that is strong, sustainable and internationally competitive. 


HTC VIVE is the premier virtual reality (VR) platform and ecosystem that creates true-to-life VR experiences for businesses and consumers. The VIVE ecosystem is built around premium VR hardware, software, and content. The VIVE business encompasses best-in-class XR hardware; VIVEPORT platform and app store; VIVE Enterprise Solutions for business customers; VIVE X, a $100M VR business accelerator; VIVE STUDIOS, an entertainment, gaming, and enterprise content studio; and VIVE ARTS for cultural initiatives. For more information on VIVE, please visit

About Immersive VR Education

Immersive VR Education Ltd is an Ireland-based company creating a virtual reality (VR) education platform called Engage (stylised as “ENGAGE”) to transform distance learning.

The Engage platform is a type of virtual reality PowerPoint that is networked, recordable and editable by its users. Instead of using images on PowerPoint slides for your presentation, Engage uses 3D assets and environments to totally immerse its users.

Engage enables educators to create their own content, classes and courses so they can teach any student anywhere in the world in a virtual classroom.

Immersive VR Education are working closely with HTC, Oxford University, New Haven University, The Royal College of Surgeons and others to bring immersive content to the Engage platform.

Immersive VR Education also create showcase experiences to promote educational uses of VR. Their most recognized experience to date has been the Apollo 11 VR Experience which has won multiple awards and has proved hugely popular on many platforms including the HTC Vive.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technologies are going to transform education globally in the coming years and Immersive VR Education is at the forefront of this revolution.

Twitter: @vreducation


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