Haptic virtual environment

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Haptic virtual environment

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Title: Haptic virtual environment
Author: Acosta, Eric Javier
Abstract: Virtual Reality is "the illusion of participation in a synthetic environment rather than external observation of such an environment" [12]. The concept of experiencing a virtual world, that the user may otherwise never be able to experience, has drawn an enormous amount of publicity for many years. This multi-sensory experience typically relies on three-dimensional (3D) graphics and sound, but now we are able to incorporate the sense of touch into these virtual worlds. Haptics is a technology that adds the sense of touch to virtual reality and recent advancements in this field have spawned worldwide interest from different fields of study for both commercial and research interests. Given the importance of the sense of touch for humans, it is desirable to combine tactile, visual, and audio cues to develop a more realistic environment. Such cues would be applicable in a variety of applications ranging from entertainment to simulation training. The incorporation of haptic displays in virtual environments bring many new possibilities, but not without introducing a new dimension of problems that have to be overcome. One such problem is the formation of haptic virtual objects. Unfortunately, there are no high-level tools for the creation, visualization, and manipulation of complex haptic virtual environments and the incorporation of haptics into a system usually requires low-level programming efforts by the developers, forcing them to be knowledgeable in 3D graphical and haptics programming. The goal of this research was to provide an underlying infrastructure that could be built to replace the current labor-intensive methods of creating haptic virtual environments by an easier method that is equivalent to creating graphical virtual environments. This research demonstrates the feasibility of this concept by describing a prototype that was implemented as a plug-in for 3D Studio Max, a commercial graphics package. This plug-in transforms a graphical virtual environment into a haptic virtual environment without any additional programming efforts, allowing developers of haptic scenes to model 3D scene objects graphically, or use preexisting models, and make them haptic with the press of a button. This plug-in also provides the user with the ability to dynamically define haptic materials and apply them to objects in the scene. The user can then modify the properties of the materials interactively to change how the objects feel in an attempt to model more realistic materials. These materials can then be saved into a database for reusing when creating haptic virtual environments.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2346/22202
Date: 2001-05

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