Section: New Software and Platforms

The SOFA Framework


SOFA (More information about SOFA at http://www.sofa-framework.org ) is an open-source software framework targeted at real-time multi-physics simulation, with an emphasis on medical simulation. The idea of SOFA was initiated by members of the MIMESIS team, strongly supported by Inria and still actively developed within the MIMESIS team. Based on C++, the SOFA engine provides many algorithms, physiological models and anatomical data, made available within a plugin architecture. With its high level of modularity, SOFA appears to be an efficient tools to benchmark and develop new medical technologies using existing algorithms.

Figure 7. Logo of the SOFA framework

The SOFA framework relies on a multi-model representation which allows for having several representations (e.g. mechanical, thermal and visual) of the same object. Those different representations are connected together through a mechanism called mapping. With these features, it is also possible to have models of very different natures interacting with each other, for instance rigid bodies, deformable objects, and fluids. CPU and GPU implementations can be transparently combined to exploit the computational power of modern hardware architectures.

SOFA is at the heart of a number of research projects, including cardiac electro-physiology modeling, interventional radiology planning and guidance, planning for cryosurgery and deep brain stimulation, robotics, percutaneous procedures, laparoscopic surgery, non-rigid registration, etc. As a proof of its success, SOFA has been downloaded nearly 150,000 times, and is used today by many research groups around the world, as well as a number of companies. The mailing list used to exchange with the community includes several hundreds of researchers, from about 50 different institutions. SOFA is currently used by several industrial partners (Siemens Corporate Research, Epona Medical, Moog, SenseGraphics, etc.) and also provides the key technology on which our newly created start-up (InSimo) is relying. We strongly believe that today SOFA has become a reference for academic research, and is increasingly gaining recognition for product prototyping and development. The best illustration of this worldwide positioning is the role of SOFA in the challenge set by the HelpMeSee foundation to win the contract for the development of a very ambitious and high-risk project on cataract surgery simulation.

The SOFA Consortium

SOFA started ten years ago as an Inria collaborative research project. Now, SOFA includes many different functionalities, several companies rely on the framework as a physics engine and a large community rose over the years. To better meet the expectations of the community, Inria and the SOFA architects decided to create the SOFA Consortium in which the MIMESIS is strongly involved. The official kick-off of the Consortium took place in Strasbourg on the 25. November 2015.

Figure 8. The SOFA Consortium was created around the SOFA platform in 2015: here are some fields of application of SOFA

The objectives of the SOFA Consortium can be defined as:

  • Represent the identity of SOFA,

  • Structure and develop the community,

  • Coordinate the development of SOFA to make it always more efficient and stable.

The Consortium has to represent the identity of SOFA. As a consequence, the first mission of the Consortium is to promote SOFA in conferences, forums or any other event. The Consortium must present SOFA to researchers and industrials and inform about all activities around the simulation platform and the available applications. By advertising all this work, the Consortium will bring more visibility to the entire SOFA community, encourage partnership and stimulate technology transfer.

Second, the Consortium now becomes a privileged contact point for any question or request. Members, users, beginners or any interested partner can contact us. We will find the answer to their needs and thus increase the interactions outside and within the community.

Third, the Consortium is in charge of coordinating the developments made in SOFA. Through regular meetings, and bi-annual technical committee, the Consortium makes sure the development follows the road map. Moreover, the Consortium sticks to the vision of SOFA as an open-source software, that has to become more and more stable and easy to use.

Finally, a free support is provided by the Consortium on the public version of SOFA, with the help of the entire SOFA community.