Haptic Cow

Producer: Sarah Baillie

The Haptic Cow is the most famous veterinary virtual reality simulator, it was created by Professor Sarah Baillie and utilises haptic technology.

What is Haptics?

Haptic technology allows a person to interact with a 3D computer-generated virtual environment through the sense of touch. We use haptics to develop simulators for teaching veterinary palpation-based examinations and procedures. To read more about haptics visit touchaptics.

Why Use Haptics in Veterinary Training?

Teaching procedures and tasks that are internal and unsighted is particularly difficult, for example, when performing bovine fertility examinations the vet’s hand is inside the cow and out of sight, so how can the student copy? In turn, the vet can’t see what the student is doing or know what he or she is touching, so providing effective guidance is difficult. Students also need to learn to use the right amount of pressure when feeling structures – enough but not too much. However, it is difficult to know, or for a clinician to describe, how much pressure is being used. We are using haptic simulators to help us address these teaching challenges.

The Veterinary Haptics Team at the Royal Veterinary College

As mentioned, the Haptic Cow was developed by Sarah Baillie. Sarah is a veterinary surgeon who worked in practice for many years (1986 – 2006) but also has a Masters and PhD in Computing Science. Her combination of skills – in clinical work, teaching and computing – has proved invaluable when developing and evaluating the simulators. Sarah worked at the RVC until 2012, when she moved to the University of Bristol as Chair of Veterinary Education.

Sarah leaves behind her a haptics team: Tierney Kinnison (LIVE PhD student) and Katie Adam (RVC PhD Student), who regularly work with Jim Cannon (Widening Participation), Chris Hobson (Education Liaison) as well as Neil Forrest (haptics software developer) and Sarah herself. The team receives regular help and input from student ambassadors, vet students and clinicians.

Watch the Haptic Cow in Action

Veterinary Haptics at the RVC 

BBC video of the Haptic Cow at Cutting-edge Science

Haptic Cow Haptic Cow