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OpenGL Insights by Christophe Riccio, Patrick Cozzi

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Multimodal Interactive
Simulations on the Web
Tansel Halic, Woojin Ahn, Suvranu De
42.1 Introduction
Multimodal interactive simulations (MIS), also known as virtual environments, rep-
resent synthetic computer-generated environments that allow interactions by one or
more users using multiple sensory modalities, e.g., vision, hearing, touch, and smell.
The interaction may be accomplished using specialized interface devices such as the
mouse, space balls, robot arms, etc. Such simulations may be used in a variety of ap-
plications spanning video games, virtual malls, and psychomotor skill training. One
application we are interested in is using MIS to develop interactive medical simula-
tions.
Conventional MIS systems are restricted and highly dependent on the underly-
ing software and hardware systems. The web, unlike traditional software platforms,
provides the simplest solution. Web-based simulation systems may be run indepen-
dent of the client systems and with a very negligible code footprint on a browser
that complies with open standards. This creates ubiquitous simulation environments
independent of hardware and software.
Web browsers have an essential role to play in this paradigm [Murugesan et
al., 11, Rodrigues, Oliveira, and Vaidya 10]. With the web browsers, the hard-
ware systems and software platforms, device drivers, and runtime libraries b ecome
transparent to the user. Highly realistic 3D interactive scenes can now be gener-
ated using the recently introduced standard plugin free visualization API: WebGL
[Khronos 11].
605
42
606 VII Software Design
To enable highly realistic MIS on the web, we have introduced a platform-
independent software framework for multimodal interactive simulations: Π -SoFMIS
[Halic, Ahn, and De 12]. This allows efficient generation of 3D interactive appli-
cations using WebGL, including visualization, simulation, and hardware-integration
modules. We present our framework, some performance tests to demonstrate the
capabilities of WebGL and some implementation details along with a case study in
medical simulation.
42.2 -SoFMIS Design and Definitions of
Modules
Π -SoFMIS is designed for modularity and extensibility [Halic et al., 11]. The
functional components can be easily replaced or extended through custom imple-
mentations independent of any prerequisite configuration. Π -SoFMIS is a module-
oriented framework since the modular structure isolates the components and elim-
inates inter-dependencies. This also allows the flexibility to be used for multiple
applications, which is one of the most common uses. Another benefit of modularity
in the context of web-based simulations is that the users may use only the parts of
the framework that they need. This increases cacheability of the web application and
decreases the download time of the framework to the client devices which is often
critical in mobile environments or client devices that have limited network capabili-
ties.
Figure 42.1. -SoFMIS overall architecture.

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