App to help people relax developed using expertise of Coventry University researchers

Research news

Tuesday 25 July 2017

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An app for smartphones and tablets designed to help users relax and unwind has been developed using expertise of researchers at Coventry University and launched by Channel 4. 

Thousands of people are already benefiting from the Soar app, which aims to reduce anxiety, blood pressure and helps with relaxation.

The app, which can be downloaded from the Apple app store and Google play, utilised the expertise of Dr Gail Steptoe-Warren and Nigel Wilson, principal lecturers at the university’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences.

Soar: Tree of Life is an exploration-based adventure game where users help to restore colour and music to a landscape on the Island of Paradise. 

Users steer a bird around the island, collecting fellow birds, restoring colour, sunlight and creating music.

The game is designed to leave people with a sense of calm, in a relaxed state and feeling revitalised.

Developers at eLearning Studios were working on a project to develop a series of games that would help reduce stress in older workers in the workplace.

During the research and prototyping of these games it became clear that a game that reduces stress would be beneficial for a much wider audience and so they set about creating Soar.

They conducted an in-depth literature review looking at research papers and academic journals that focused on the use of video games as a stress reduction technique, researched Alpha waves and games that create Alpha waves that relax you and worked closely with stress management experts from Coventry University.

Already more than 3,400 users have downloaded the app, which is being promoted by All 4 Games, which is Channel 4’s games publishing arm.

And there are plans in place to update it in the future and make it available on the Gear VR virtual reality platform later this year.

But it is the potential health benefits that make the game stand out.

Gail said:

“The game has an almost immediate relaxing effect. It improves focus and reduces anxiety, lowers blood pressure and heart rate naturally and even works as a sleep aid for people affected with insomnia."


Colin Macdonald, head of All 4 Games, said: 

“Soar is the first game we have published that has virtual reality and it’s great to have been part of its development. We always welcome a play of the game during a hectic day at the office as it helped the team to relax!” 


Nitin Thakrar, managing director of eLearning Studios, added:

“We have designed and developed several relaxation games but the feedback that we’ve had from users has positioned Soar head and shoulders above the rest. People were wowed not only by its beauty, tranquillity and its ease of play, but by its ability to relax the mind and body leaving you with a sense of calm and wellbeing. We are truly delighted with the features of Soar as we see it as the essential experience for those who are looking to relax, unwind and de-stress.”


Midlands accountants and financial advisers Harrison Beale & Owen also assisted eLearning Studios with the project by submitting successful claims for Video Games Tax Relief providing payable tax credits in excess of £60,000.


For further press information, please contact Alison Martin, press officer, Coventry University, on 02477659752 or email