SensAble Technologies, provider of haptic devices, applications, and toolkits, is offering OpenHaptics 3.0, a software development kit to simplify touch-enabling of computer applications.
New categories of developers such as scientists and simulation and training providers can add a sense of touch to their applications, the company said. The product works with SensAble Phantom force-feedback haptic devices, which simulate, for example, the feeling of tissues in a human body by pushing back on a user's hand.
The upgraded kit features the QuickHaptics micro API, enabling users with a basic familiarity of C++ to add kinesthetic feedback to what is seen or heard on a computer screen.
(Earlier this year, Samsung launched a haptic cell phone.)
The API streamlines three types of complex programming, including operating system-specific windowing, scene graph management, and force rendering in haptics threads, SensAble said. An application to touch and manipulate a 3-D model can be written with 8 lines of programming code instead of 300 lines, the company said.
For medical, scientific, and training applications, Version 3.0 supports faster addition of exceptional realism, which is a virtual environment in which users can add touch to applications.
As an example of how the product works, a developer with no graphics or haptics experience could use QuickHaptics to prototype a training application for veterinary students, SensAble said. The developer could import 3-D models of an animal's anatomy and assign haptic material properties allowing a trainee to use the Phantom device to feel the difference between healthy and diseased organs.
"Haptics experts will find QuickHaptics to be invaluable in helping them add virtual touch to their applications in innovative ways. On the other hand, developers who have no experience with haptics programming can easily get to work and be productive quickly," said David Chen, chief technology officer of SensAble, in a statement released by the company.
Version 3.0 also features the ability to build mashups, which combine programming code from various sources into existing applications. Reuse of source code is enabled.
Users also can load 3-D models with textures in standard formats using a single command. There is no need to convert models into specialized file formats before haptic programming.
OpenHaptics 3.0 is available for 32-bit Windows XP and Vista for $950 per seat for commercial developers. It is free for academic developers. Current OpenHaptics commercial customers on software maintenance contracts get the software at no additional charge.
Linux and 64-bit versions will be available early next year.