For the launch of our complete posterior solution, we wanted dental professionals not just to hear about the many benefits, but to experience them for themselves. The latest technology gave us the means to do just that. The idea of creating the first virtual dental implant surgery was born. The big challenge was to make it a reality.
Finding the right team
If it was to happen, a dental implant surgery had to be filmed from the surgeon’s perspective and in multiple angles. With the project being the first of its kind, we needed the right crew and, crucially, the right clinician.
Turning a surgeon’s operating room into a film studio was always going to be a big ask, but when we approached Dr. Tristan Staas in the Netherlands about the project, he didn’t have to think about it for long.
“I was surprised by the question,” Dr. Staas admitted, “I’d never actually thought about the possibility of using virtual reality as a training tool before.
“It’s in my nature to try new things, so I felt excited to be part of this unique project.”
A helmet customized with six GoPro cameras recorded the surgery from all angles
Overcoming the challenges
The film crew at
“At first I got really excited, but then came the usual thoughts about how to make it work, what type of cameras we would have to use and, most importantly, how we could make the film so that it offered an enhanced experience for the viewer.”
And, as with any ‘first’, there were challenges.
“I think I initially thought this project would be easier, but right now there are no plug-and-play solutions for this type of project,” Martin explained.
“Everything was custom built and developed, both in terms of hardware and software. As we were under time pressure to be ready for the launch of the complete posterior solution, the timescales were my main concern.
“Once it became clear that we had built a camera rig that would work, I could relax a bit and focus on the actual filming.”
Virtual surgery, filmed in reality: Dr. Staas prepares the patient for surgery
No second takes
After months of preparation, the day of filming was tense for all involved.
The team filmed the surgery using a helmet customized with six GoPro cameras to capture a 360° view of the operating room, from the perspective of the surgeon.
“For the first 10 minutes I had to get used to working with the helmet on my head”, Dr. Staas recalls, “But I got used to it fast, so it didn't affect the surgery”.
“It was nerve-wracking as it was the first time we’d had a project like this and we only had one chance to get it right”, Martin explained.
“It took a lot of setting up, and because we were in another room during the surgery I could only give directions to Dr. Staas via a headset. I had to give almost all of the direction before the operation began.
Virtual surgery made real
The surgery was a success, with Dr. Staas placing the components from our complete posterior solution without
So, were they pleased with the end result?
For Dr. Staas, watching the surgery back in virtual reality was a surreal experience:
“It's a bit strange to see yourself doing the surgery again, but it matches reality very well and it really feels like you are in the surgery.”
Martin agrees that seeing the operation through the Oculus Rift DK2 virtual reality headset meant all the effort had been worthwhile:
“I think it’s an amazing film that shows there’s a lot of promise for future virtual reality films.”
The final result: virtual dental implant treatment through the eyes of a surgeon.
The future of dental implant training?
Dr. Staas even envisages that the film could open the door to new training methods for dental professionals:
“I now think virtual reality can become a valuable complement when training surgeons. It’s the closest they can get to the real thing – they can experience the procedures almost as if they are doing it themselves.
Want to see the final cut? You can experience the complete posterior solution in virtual reality for yourself at one of our upcoming events.