This paper presents a research effort, currently underway at the Department of Civil Engineering of Federal University of Rio de Janeiro with the cooperation of the Research Center of PETROBRAS (CENPES) in the implementation of Distributed Virtual Reality technology to provide a tool for technicians in distant regions debate details of complex engineering projects.
Imagine several people interacting simultaneously in a preconceived (virtual) world. Besides this, let's consider the possibility that these people may be operating different computers at different locations, other cities or even other countries. In this context these people assume their virtual bodies (avatars) and they interact independently from each other but in the same virtual world. This scenery perfectly defines the principle of the distributed Virtual Reality (VR). Thinking this way, we begun the research work in order to create a system that would make possible for technicians in distant regions debate details of complex engineering projects in a more extended way than copies of design plans, telephone or even video conferencing. It was stated as reference, real cases that were typical of project or operation among design, construction and operation departments of petroleum industry. Keeping in mind that the projects in general are 3D conceived, the way to the verification would be the model itself or an electronic model. And that what was done. This work will show our experience in the implementation of a practical case of distributed VR. It will be shown the technical and practical aspects of the implementation as well as the test results and the research conclusions. The details relative to the data structuring, geometric modeling and definition, the network communication characteristics and operation, and the visualizing and interaction system will be presented.