FundamentalVR has unveiled the addition of advanced haptic gloves to its virtual reality training system for surgeons, which allow them to feel the shape, texture, weight and movement of simulated three-dimensional objects.
Developed by HaptX, each glove is powered by 130 tactile actuators, as part of a microfluidic system that presses against a user’s skin and fingers to provide physical feedback.
The now-compatible hardware can apply up to four pounds of force to each finger to make virtual objects feel rigid—like bones, for example—during a simulated surgery. They can also be paired with FundamentalVR’s haptic arm, designed to simulate the use of a tool, such as a scalpel.
“The ability to touch and interact naturally with virtual environments is transforming the way industries train workers and bring products to market,” Jake Rubin, founder and CEO of HaptX, said in a statement. “The healthcare industry is at the forefront of this shift, and it’s set to be transformed by advancements in VR and haptics.”
The setup was demonstrated for the first time at the annual meeting of the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons. In a simulation of an anterior total hip replacement, users can feel the presence of boney growth around the rim of hip socket, as well as identify the ligaments that can help surgeons plan their next steps, the company said.
FundamentalVR’s software platform aims to recreate the real-life sensations of several medical tools—and their interactions with different tissues, muscles and bone—using off-the-shelf hardware, such as laptops and VR headsets, as well as third-party devices like HaptX’s gloves. The end goal is to create a scalable, flight simulator-like experience for training surgeons for less than the cost of a single medical cadaver.
“When it comes to surgical training simulations, a sense of touch is a game changer, but has traditionally only been possible with immobile equipment costing hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said FundamentalVR CEO Richard Vincent. “Our platform currently works with haptic arms, but is designed to evolve as hardware innovations allow new products such as HaptX Gloves to come to market.”
Since launching last August, the Fundamental Surgery platform has been used at the Mayo Clinic and UCLA, University College Hospital in London and the German hospital group Sana, the company said, focused on orthopedic procedures including spinal pedicle screw insertions, posterior and anterior total hip replacements and total knee replacements.
In addition, the platform was recently honored at the South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, as a 2019 winner of the festival’s Interactive Innovation Award in virtual, augmented and mixed reality.