World Haptics is a major conference on technology that recreates the sense of touch, and is attended by research groups from the US, Japan, Korea and the UK, some of the leading countries behind this emergent branch of science.
Dr Fernando Bello and Dr Luc Maréchal of the SiMMS group within the Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science (ICCESS) attended the conference to showcase the latest developments of the Digital Rectal Examination Haptics Trainer (DiRECT) project. The team have been working on technology to simulate assessment of sphincter tone; very important to a clinician carrying out an examination on a patient, but something that is not currently part of any existing training device. Dr Bello and Dr Maréchal presented a poster with two different approaches to simulate sphincter tone, one using cables and the other employing a soft pneumatic actuator. They also demonstrated each prototype so that conference delegates could see – and feel – the technology for themselves.
Feedback from delegates was very positive, with many appreciating the applied nature of the research and its potential impact on medical training. The SiMMS group are already thinking ahead to the next phase of their project and future haptics conferences.