Inventor’s corner: Virtual training
9 June 2011
Dave Taylor is programme lead for the Virtual Worlds and Medical Media Group (Surgery and Cancer) and runs the medical media and design laboratory, which researches and develops virtual world technology. After an early career in the software and electronics industry, he joined Lord Darzi’s team at St Mary’s Campus in 2008.
What have you developed?
We have created a set of simulations using clinical environments and virtual patients, that can be accessed using freely available software and a broadband connection. We use online ‘virtual worlds’, such as Second Life, to create these simulations, which are set up so that you can create a scenario without being a programmer.
What stage is the research at?
The development team includes people with skills in 3D design, storytelling, web services, business modelling,community management and film making, alongside several of the Department’s medics, research fellows and psychologists. We have also worked with specialist paramedic trainers, A&E and army doctors and other experts, to develop realistic, digital, virtual hospitals, major incident scenarios and patients that respond realistically to medical tests and interventions.
Where do you hope this research will be in five years?
Our goal is to enhance the range of training available to multidisciplinary medical teams. We envisage virtual operating theatres with virtual patients, based on sophisticated physiological models that can be accessed by dispersed teams anywhere and anytime.
What are the advantages of your system?
It allows easy collaboration; people from all over the world can log in to the virtual world and train together; eliminating any costs for travel and logistics. In addition, we have the ability to stage scenarios in the virtual setting, such as pandemic virus outbreaks, which would be impossible or fantastically difficult to simulate in the real world.
— Gavin Reed, Imperial Innovations