Graphic Technologies for Virtual, Remote and Hybrid laboratories: WebLab-FPGA hybrid lab


Nowadays virtual, remote and hybrid (with both virtual and real remote components) laboratories depend on a large stack of technologies, and are almost always webbased. However, still today those laboratories which require relatively advanced graphics (3D or even 2D graphics) often rely on non-standard components and browser plugins, such as Adobe Flash or Java Applets. These components were necessary because of the severe limitations that standard Web technologies have traditionally had in regard to graphics and RIAs (Rich Internet Applications). This paper analyzes two of the most common non-standard technologies that are still used today in remote laboratories. It also proposes two alternatives which make use of modern Web technologies (Canvas and WebGL). Additionally, it illustrates one of the proposed alternatives (WebGL) with an example: Weblab-FPGA-Watertank, a hybrid laboratory implemented at the University of Deusto under the WeblabDeusto RLMS (Remote Laboratory Management System), which lets users program a real FPGA device remotely to control a virtual environment. Users require only an up-todate browser and require no plugins whatsoever. The fullyfeatured virtual environment is rendered through WebGL. Finally, conclusions are drawn from the analysis and from the WebLab-FPGA-Watertank experience.