In this paper, we propose a collaborative product development and virtual prototyping framework based on distributed haptic interfaces along with the deformable object modeling. Collaborative Virtual Environment (CVE) is a promising technique in industrial product development and virtual prototyping for globalized manufacturing enterprises. Network control problems such as network delay have greatly limited CVE’s application. The problem becomes more difficult when high-update-rate haptic interfaces and computation-demanding deformable objects are both integrated into CVEs for intuitive manipulation and enhanced realism. A hybrid network architecture is presented to balance the computational burden of haptic rendering and deformable object simulation. An adaptive artificial time compensation is used to reduce the time discrepancy between the server and the client. Interpolation and extrapolation approaches are used to synchronize graphic and haptic data transmitted over the network. The proposed techniques can be used for collaborative product virtual prototyping, virtual assembly, remote surgical simulation and other collaborative virtual environments where both haptic interfaces and deformable object models are involved.

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