INEXPENSIVE DENTISTRY TRAINING USING VIRTUAL REALITY TOOLS
Dental surgery involves complicated and precise operations which require a long-term training and practice. The paper describes some of the procedures that are assessed in the framework of the VIR-PRO Romanian research project in order to increase the preparation and competitiveness of dental students, doctors in training and dental technicians by using dedicated Virtual Reality tools. The VIR-PRO project has three main components: a Virtual Learning Environment for dentistry represented by a web/cloud based tutoring platform, a Virtual Reality laboratory training phase and finally a physical training phase using 3D printed synthetic models.
The second component implies the creation of a virtual 3D training environment containing the oral cavity with teeth and gums, associated with navigation and dental tools. The standard human-computer interface for dental training is using haptic tools to capture hands movements and stereoscopic devices to represent the environment. We are proposing in this paper a simpler and less expensive interface to be used before the classical one or as an alternative to it. It contains simpler hardware sensor devices without haptic feedback, like the Leap Motion controller, and 3D monitors or TV sets to show the environment. The feedback includes visual modifications and sound effects when medical procedures are performed in the oral cavity, without the tactile feedback.
The development of Virtual Reality methods and technologies will lower drastically the costs of the educational process and will increase its quality because of the extended number of situations and complexity levels a student has to face before the invasive treatments on patients. There can be designed simpler and extremely inexpensive tools to be used at home and to precede/assist/replace the training in a Virtual Reality Laboratory, extending further the advantages of this type of training.