Simulation Suite (SIMS) - Virtual Reality Simulation

The School of Clinical Dentistry has engaged in an exciting new venture in Learning &Teaching with the introduction of virtual reality simulation using haptic feedback devices.

Haptic Technology

haptics suite three studentsHaptic technology creates the illusion of substances (teeth, alveolar bone, instruments, handpieces, burs, implants...) and force within a simulated virtual world of the mouth.

The haptic devices provide force-feedback of the virtual dental operative instruments as they come in contact with the virtual teeth and alveolar bone giving the operator a perception of manipulation of objects using the senses of touch and proprioception.

Our industrial partner in this collaborative venture is the French company HRV-Simulation with their product ‘VirtEasy Dental’. This technology (hardware and software) currently provides exercises in intra- and extra-coronal operative skills, endodontics and surgical implant placement.


Overall aims for the Virtual Reality environment

haptics suite two studentsTo provide an additional Learning &Teaching opportunity for the acquisition of skills in operative dentistry, endodontics and implantology that will complement those provided in the Clinical Skills Learning Environment and the patient-clinics.

To provide a ‘serious game’ environment where students can learn, develop and improve their operative skills in an iterative and interactive manner in a novel and fun virtual simulation environment.

We anticipate that students should benefit from this experience as they will have more time to develop their clinical skills in different and complementary format to the core Clinical Skills Simulation Environment (Phantom Head) sessions.


Implementation Strategy

haptics suite one studentWe have a detailed implementation strategy that includes joint development of the software to customise it for our specific educational requirements at University of Sheffield. This will be an ongoing process based on an effective and enthusiastic collaboration and input from both teams.

Eight machines have been purchased and have been installed in the newly refurbished C-30 room on the 1st floor, now renamed ‘Simulation Suite, or SIMS’.

Effective introduction of this technology into our curriculum will follow a staged and gradual implementation strategy, that will commence in the first semester of the next academic year with simple operative skills for 1st, 2nd BDS an H&T. 

Assessment & Feedback

The assessment (formative at this stage) criteria should enable students to develop the required skills for self-assessment and reflection on both their rate of progress and achievement of outcomes in an objective way with the aid of the feedback from the embedded software.

We aim to link this assessment feedback directly to the Student Portfolio database.

Future development & Opportunities

The School of Clinical Dentistry is very much at the vanguard of the implementation of this technology, which can only escalate in sophistication and capabilities.

This presents unique and exciting opportunities to:

  • Develop the use of VR in the development of new and pioneering L&T curricula.
  • Incorporate this VR technology into a range of courses
  • Engage in the collaborative research and development of new and more sophisticated software.
  • Promote the use of this VR technology in a variety of educational settings at under-graduate and post-graduate level.

For further information please email a.towers@sheffield.ac.uk