Future Features

As REMOTE develops, several new features will be added to enhance both the usability and the cross-platform compatibility of the application.  A few of the anticipated features will include: 

Expanded 3D Model Support

At present REMOTE does not support any of the more sophisticated features of many 3D file formats, including material properties, camera positions, lighting, etc.  The current capabilities of the ObjectFile class provided by Sun are too limited; however, the possibility of third-party parsers will hopefully end this limitation.  In addition, the new Loader interface provided by Sun will hopefully be expanded into something similar to the NCSA Portfolio set of parsers; these parsers are controlled by a single class, which automatically figures out the type of 3D file, and the corresponding parser.  This framework would eliminate the need for the ModelParser class.

In addition, model files will be kept in the /rbt directory in the future (not currently possible, as ObjectFile only takes a filename argument).

Improved Application Performance

The current implementations of JDK 1.2 beta 3 and Java3D alpha 3 are both currently under development, and have not been performance-tuned.  As the JDK and Java3D libraries evolve to final release forms, it is anticipated that debugging code will be removed, and the overall performance will improve noticeably. 

Additional Swing Support

The use of Swing (the new user interface libraries for Java) in the application is limited by problems relating to mixing heavyweight and lightweight components; heavyweight components are user interface elements which use the underlying windowing system's native components, whereas lightweight components are written in 100% Java.  At present, the Java3D library uses a heavyweight component to display the simulation model, which prevents REMOTE from using Swing menus; if used, Swing menus would be obscured by the Simulation Viewport. 

In addition to using Swing menus, future versions of REMOTE will use the Swing file chooser instead of the peer-based java.awt.FileDialog version.  Both of these additions will remove the few remaining platform incompatibilities, which present users with slightly different application behavior on different platforms. 

Context-Sensitive Help

In an effort to improve the learnability and usability of the REMOTE application,  the JHelp system will be incorporated into the application in the future.  This addition will allow REMOTE to provide the user with context-sensitive help, and an easy-to-use help database to allow users to search help topics. 

Robot Tool Support

Future versions of REMOTE will allow users to define two different tool models, one for the tool when active, and another for the tool when inactive.  This will allow simulation of two-state end-effectors, such as grippers. 

Remote Robot Server

The long term goal of REMOTE is to provide remote-control capabilities, allowing students to program and debug a simulation, before sending their program on to a remote robot server.  Students will use Internet video to view the results, permitting distance-education students access to limited laboratory equipment, and enabling true tele-learning. 

Improved Documentation

Besides the addition on-line of a complete help system, REMOTE will include a more complete user guide in future versions, in order to better enable users to get the most from the application. 


Copyright (c) 1996-2001 Brendon Wilson.
All Rights Reserved.