Haptic feedback is making VR surgery feel like the real thing

Originally posted on The Verge on August 14, 2018

How do you become a surgeon? Really, there’s only the one way. Read all the textbooks you like, but sooner or later, you’re going to have to grab a scalpel and get slicing. It’s a millennia-old method of on-the-job training, usually summarized with the worryingly abrupt expression “see one, do one, teach one.”

But at the headquarters of London startup FundamentalVR, I got to try out what might be the surgical training tool of the future. It uses cheap virtual reality components combined with haptic feedback to give doctors as realistic a training experience as current tech will allow. Wearing an HTC Vive headset and wielding a pair of pen-shaped 3D manipulators, I sawed off a knee bone and bored holes in the spine of an unprotesting virtual patient. And while I don’t quite feel confident enough to don scrubs and head to the nearest OR, the simulation felt to me like much more than a novelty. It felt like a learning experience.

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