The Haptic Cow had an amazing time at the CHRISTMAS LECTURES

The Haptic Cow travelled to the Royal Institution in London for this year’s CHRISTMAS LECTURES. The Haptic Cow is a 3D virtual reality simulator which enables veterinary students to feel inside a cow and determine if she is pregnant or not! Haptic pertains to the sense of touch and haptic technology allows humans to feel what they can see on a computer monitor. The Haptic Cow was developed for teaching internal unsighted examinations such as pregnancy diagnosis; students can feel parts of the reproductive tract while the teacher can follow a student’s movements inside the virtual cow and provide feedback (as does the Haptic Cow, which will “moo” if too many Newtons are applied!). The simulator also has many other benefits including enabling repeated practice for students and animal welfare. The software has many other potential uses, for example it has been modified to create an equine version for teaching colic examinations.

The Haptic Cow was demoed at the CHRISTMAS LECTURES by its inventor Sarah Baillie and her colleague Tierney Kinnison from the Royal Veterinary College (LIVE), University of London. Sarah Baillie is Professor of Veterinary Education at the University of Bristol; she was a vet in practice for many years and developed the Haptic Cow during her PhD in Computing Science at the University of Glasgow. The Haptic Cow is used at a number of veterinary schools, including Bristol and the RVC where PhD students including Tierney Kinnison run the haptics teaching.

CHRISTMAS LECTURES presenter Danielle George, an electrical engineer from The University of Manchester, was lucky enough to have a go on the Cow during the filming. She was very impressed with the technology and the potential it provides for veterinary education. When looking inside the plastic rear end of the cow, she was amazed that there’s really nothing there, just a small robotic arm which creates the illusion of feeling the insides of a cow!

The ‘Making Contact’ CHRISTMAS LECTURE featuring the Haptic Cow will be aired on 30th December at 8pm on BBC Four.