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Collaborative Virtual Environments
This page reports on work carried out from 2000 - 2005.
The primary research vehicle has been the CSIRO Collaborative Haptic
Workbench, which consists of software libraries to network two Haptic
Workbenches (described below) so that the people using each of the
Haptic Workbenches share the same virtual workspace with the full range
of visual, auditory and haptic interactions. The Haptic Workbench is a
hands-in virtual environment that fits on a desk, and the collaborative
extension allows two people to work together on a complex 3D problem as
if they were in the same place. Face-to-face video and audio channels
provide the inter-personal links and the haptic styluses (using Phantom
haptic devices) give each user full 3D spatial and haptic interaction
with the data and models in the virtual scene as well as physically
interacting with each other.
The teamís first Collaborative Haptic Workbench was demonstrated in
the laboratory in September 2000 using a virtual clay modelling and
annotating case study. It was first shown publicly in July 2001 at the
ISO MPEG4 Standards Meeting in Sydney, Australia. In November 2002 it
was demonstrated running a surgical training scenario between Canberra,
Australia and Stockholm, Sweden, and publicly between Australia and
Montreal, Canada at the 8th Annual CANARIE Advanced Networks Workshop.
The current Collaborative Haptic Workbench software framework
supports a rich set of communications media between the two people
using it. Features include:
- Both participants can simultaneously interact directly with the
models in the virtual scene, and can observe what each other is doing.
If the behaviour programmed into the model supports it they can even
feel the haptic effect of each otherís movements. For example, they
could each grasp either side of an object and feel the other pulling on
- Both participants can annotate the model using 3D drawing tools (and erasers).
- Real-world images and videos can be viewed and annotated within the virtual space
- High-quality audio and video links are available between the two
workbenches, using broadband research technology developed under the CeNTIE* program by a sister research team.
- Haptic and non-haptic spatial gestures are supported between participants.
Technology supporting this interaction at the network level includes
approaches to scene synchronisation and the ability to handle latency
and jitter over the network and has been presented at ACM CVE in Bonn
(September 2002), ACM SIGGRAPH (Gunn et al, July 2003) and MMVR (Gunn
et al, January 2004) to appear in the June 2005 issue of Presence.
CeNTIE project is supported by the Australian Government through the
Advanced Networks Program of the Department of Communications,
Information Technology and the Arts and CSIRO ICT Centre.