In U.K., dental students require to perform training and practice on real human tissues at the very early stage of their courses. Currently, the human tissues, such as decay teeth, are mounted in a human head like physical model. The problems with these models in teaching are; (1) every student operates on teeth, which are always unique; (2) the process can not be recorded for examination purposes and (3) same training are not repeatable. The aim of PHATOM Project is to develop a dental training system using Haptics technology. This paper documents the project background, specification, research and development of the first prototype system. It also discusses the research in the visual display, haptic devices and haptic rendering. This includes stereo vision, volumetric modelling, surface remapping algorithms as well as analysis design of the system. A new volumetric to surface model transformation algorithm is also introduced. This paper includes the future work on the system development and research.
PHANTOM project is sponsored by ESRC in UK. It is divided in three different strands; (1) Technical Strand, (2) Curriculum Strand and (3) Evaluation Strand. It involves engineers and dentists as well as educationists across Kings College London (KCL), Birmingham City University and The University of Reading. The University of Reading is responsible for the research and development of the technical strand and aim to deliver the dental haptic training system by September 2009.
Dental students in KCL start training on real human teeth in year one of their courses. These teeth are mounted on a manlike head model shown in figure 1. The problem with such system is that each real human tooth are unique, therefore every student would have to operate on different tooth problem. As well as this, there are no solutions on accurately recording or repeating their operations. This also causes examination problem such as drilling direction and hand positioning. In addition, specific teeth are much more difficult to obtain due to better general dental care.
Figure 1. Manlike Head in KCL
One of the solutions is to use haptic technology to simulate these operations such as drilling and probing. Virtual environment could also include some artificial intelligence like patients feeling and bleeding, which were not possible with the current manlike head model. These features add additional values towards their education outcome.