FundamentalVR gave me a frankly disgusting haptic VR experience back in 2017. The surgical training company combined a VR headset with a robotic arm to provide realistic resistance to actions like inserting a needle into human skin. I winced at the sensation of dragging the needle over bone and piercing skin. Well, good news, that experience just got even closer to the real thing.
FundamentalVR is teaming up with HaptX to implement the latter’s haptic feedback glove. The collaboration was announced earlier this week. The pair showcased their work together at the annual general meeting of the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS). The glove is an exoskeleton-like device that provides resistance when interacting with virtual objects and forces.
When paired together the user has a HaptX glove on one hand and holds the robotic arm in another. As you can see in the video, the result is an even more tactile training platform for surgeons. It could also enable new, more robust training experiences. The demo features an Anterior Total Hip Arthroplasty, getting users to locate a specific ligament around the hip socket with their hands. They then carry out the necessary operation with the tool in their other hand.
It looks gross but it could be a vital new addition to an already exciting platform. FundamentalVR is already deployed at locations including Mayo Clinic and UCLA in the US, UCLH in the UK and Sana in Germany. Earlier this week it won an SXSW 2019 Innovation Award. The company didn’t specify when these features might roll out to customers. HaptX itself is an early development kit right now.