SensAble's enhanced toolkit opens the door to entirely new categories of developers, such as scientists and simulation and training providers, who want to add a realistic sense of touch to their applications, but lack the years of advanced programming and haptics expertise previously required to do so.
The release also includes new features and functionality that benefit experienced haptic developers who want to rapidly experiment with new ideas, and are creating sophisticated haptically-enabled applications including data visualizations, tele-operations, and surgical, medical and dental training simulators. With haptics ranked among the year's top 10 trends to watch (Network World, "Personal Tech: 10 Top Trends", 1/8/2008), the simplicity and ease of SensAble's new toolkit can help accelerate haptics' move into the mainstream of computing applications.
The new QuickHaptics micro API in OpenHaptics 3.0 greatly streamlines the three distinct types of complex programming typically required when writing a haptics application: operating system-specific windowing, scene graph management, and force rendering in haptics threads. For example, with QuickHaptics, a simple application to touch and manipulate a 3D model can be written with just 8 lines of programming code - instead of 300. QuickHaptics is the industry's first simple haptics API to encapsulate the necessary steps for typical haptic application development - vastly reducing the programming time required to touch-enable an application.
For example, a developer without any graphics or haptics experience could use QuickHaptics to prototype a training application for veterinary students. Using QuickHaptics, the developer could easily import all the necessary 3D models of an animal's anatomy and then quickly assign haptic material properties, allowing the trainee to use the PHANTOM device to literally "feel" the differences between healthy and diseased internal organs. In this example, the ability to develop a haptic application this rapidly means the developer can deliver a prototype to veterinarians for review and testing much sooner, and therefore get it into the hands of veterinary students much faster.
This innovative approach to haptic programming in OpenHaptics v3.0 enables:
- Rapid program design and deployment. Perform mash-ups - combining programming code from various sources into existing applications - try out new ideas, and swiftly create haptic examples and demonstrations.
- Reuse of source code from examples provided with the toolkit - showing users how sample programmes are written, and allowing them to copy and paste lines of programming code into their own applications.
- Faster and easier addition of exceptional realism, which is vital to medical, scientific, and training applications. For example new functionality in OpenHaptics v3.0 lets users readily monitor the depth of penetration from the surface contact point, and set different material properties accordingly - vital to simulating the feel of a needle that is inserted through multiple, different layers of tissue.
- Greater speed and flexibility for the seasoned haptics programmer. For example, users can load 3D models with textures in a variety of widely adopted, standard file formats using a single command - eliminating the need to convert models into specialized file formats prior to haptic programming. Additional functionality allows developers to work in either Linux or Windows to utilize SensAble's pinch grips, enabling extremely fine hand movements, such as pulling back a layer of skin with tweezers.