FundamentalVR recently announced the U.S. commercial launch of their virtual reality surgery simulator equipped with haptic feedback that give users physical sensations that align with the visuals they’re seeing. The U.K. company is touting the Fundamental Surgery platform as the ideal way to train the next generation of surgeon and fortify the skills of current practitioners.
Although virtual reality surgical simulators have become more prominent in recent years, not all of them are fortified with devices that approximate the tactile sensations experienced by a physician. Fundamental Surgery includes the proprietary Surgical Haptic Intelligence Engine (SHIE), which mimics the feel of operating on a patient through haptic arm devices.
“Surgery is about sight and touch, and if you’ve got a simulator that only has one of those two, you’ve only got 50 percent of the experience,” FundamentalVR CEO Richard Vincent tells The Verge.
The Fundamental Surgery platform is designed for use with any technologically up-to-date PC or laptop, VR headset, and pair of haptic arm devices. In recognition of the ways in which gaming and other recreational VR activities are driving rapid advances in related hardware, FundamentalVR notes the system is meant to easily adapt to coming advances.
The growing use of VR in the broader consumer market is helping to bring costs down. A system that combined strong VR with haptic feedback has traditionally required a hefty investment. FundamentalVR claims its system is cost comparable to a single cadaver that would be used in surgical training.
In addition to standard surgeries, the system can be programmed to simulate more troublesome scenarios, such as rare complications or abnormal anatomy. A panel of surgeons and other medical experts provide guidance to FundamentalVR technicians to ensure the accuracy of the simulations.
“We’re going to be running studies, looking at assessing the efficacy of the system,” Dr. Phil Pucher, an advisor to FundamentalVR, tells The Verge. “You do that by taking it to a lot of orthopedic surgeons and looking at their performance with the system. Does an expert perform better with this than a novice?”