Grant to Fund Use of Virtual Reality at Dental School

Dentistry Today


Hera Kim-Berman, DDS, will use funding from the University of Michigan’s Extended Reality (XR) Initiative to examine student learning about head and neck anatomy and diagnosis of pathology using CBCT and virtual reality (VR) methods.

The University of Michigan School of Dentistry study will assess the effectiveness and efficiency of student learning as well as student user experience by pairing VR with CBCT data to create advanced three-dimensional images of dental patients.

The study is a next step in combining modern medical imaging technology and VR for evaluating patient image data, said Kim-Berman, who is the graduate orthodontic program director and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry.

By wearing a VR headset, dentists and dental students view and manipulate 3-D images to examine a patient’s skull from many different angles and views, Kim-Berman said.

Immersive Touch Inc, a private VR and augmented reality company based in Chicago, developed the ImmersiveView software. It will be used with Oculus Rift head-mounted devices and Touch controllers developed by Oculus Inc.

The Oculus Education group has been a longstanding corporate partner of the university and has supported a number of research projects at the school, the School of Dentistry said.

“This VR tool aims to improve visualization and manipulation with an intuitive natural user interface, which may improve student mastery in interpreting CBCT images, especially in students with diminished visual-spatial ability,” said Kim-Berman.

“Despite much optimism about the educational potential of VR, there still remains limited understanding of how learners will interact with these technologies and whether they will embrace their potential as learning sources,” said Kim-Berman.

In addition to $15,000 from the XR Initiative, the project has received a Roy H. Roberts Family Award for Excellence grant of $10,000, support from the School of Dentistry, and in-kind support from the Center for Academic Innovation.

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