A COLLABORATIVE VIRTUAL HAPTIC ENVIRONMENT FOR SURGICAL TRAINING AND TELE-MENTORING

B. Chebbi, D. Lazaro, and P.X. Liu

Keywords

Haptics, virtual reality, collaborative virtual environment, telementoring, surgical training

Abstract

A collaborative hapto-visual virtual system consisting of two similar networked stations allowing two users to collaborate within a learning environment is designed and implemented. This system uses a server–client configuration for haptic rendering. The haptic component runs a real-time operating system and consequently allows for better response. A second component used for haptic collaboration runs on a separate real-time operating system and transmits the haptic devices coordinates over a local area network or the Internet, and compensates for network time delay. The user interacts with the system through a haptic device and a three-dimensional computer graphics which simulates a surgery environment and allows for graphical rendering and physical simulation. A finite element method is used to simulate the tissue deformation. The system is enhanced by multimedia collaboration between the two remote users. This system is designed to be used for remote surgical training, allowing surgeons to remotely train students to perform simple tasks. This research uses and optimizes many technologies and aspects of hapto-visual virtual environments to implement an efficient system for surgical tele-mentoring. Testing of the system showed that it is useful for remotely guiding users to perform simple tasks and also to evaluate their performance by sensing their movements through the haptic device. The demonstrated feasibility of such a training system and its use of regular Internet bring it closer to practical applications. Moreover, the system provides a platform for studying many aspects of collaborative virtual environments and their applications.

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