Simulating soft tissue deformation in real-time has become increasingly important in order to provide a realistic virtual environment for training surgical skills. Several methods have been proposed with the aim of rendering in real-time the mechanical and physiological behaviour of human organs, one of the most popular being Finite Element Method (FEM). In this paper we present a new approach to the solution of the FEM problem introducing the concept of parent and child mesh within the development of a hierarchical FEM. The online selection of the child mesh is presented with the purpose to adapt the mesh hierarchy in realtime. This permits further refinement of the child mesh increasing the detail of the deformation without slowing down the simulation and giving the possibility of integrating force feedback. The results presented demonstrate the application of our proposed framework using a desktop virtual reality (VR) system that incorporates stereo vision with integrated haptics co-location via a desktop Phantom force feedback device.
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