Haptic Cow

Category: Current

An Introduction to Haptics and the Haptic Cow

The Haptic Cow is the most famous veterinary virtual reality simulator, it was created by Professor Sarah Baillie and utilises haptic technology. On these pages you can find out more about haptics and the Haptic Cow at the LIVE Centre, RVC (and beyond).

Quick link to the Haptic Cow Page

Quick link to Public Engagement and Widening Participation Page

Quick link to Feline Abdominal Palpation in the Cat


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. 


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. Dr Tierney Kinnison (RVC Postdoctoral Researcher) undertakes the organisational aspects of the Haptic Cow and is joined by PhD students and veterinary students (peer learning) in teaching with the Haptic Cow across the curricula. The team regularly work the Widening Participation and Education Liaison teams at the RVC. They also keep in contact with Neil Forrest (haptics software developer) and Sarah herself. The team receives regular help and input from student ambassadors, veterinary students and clinicians.


Contact Us

For haptic cow information please contact Prof Baillie at sarah.baillie@bristol.ac.uk

For haptics at the RVC information please contact Tierney Kinnison at tkinnison@rvc.ac.uk

Updated 2018 Tierney Kinnison