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Elon Musk Shows His Vision of Holographic Design Technology 109

Posted by timothy
from the and-for-his-next-trick dept.
MojoKid writes "Tesla CEO Elon Musk has more on his mind that just cars and 4,000 MPH Hyperloop transportation systems. He also tweeted his intention of developing a hand-manipulated holographic design engine and designing a rocket part with only hand gestures, finally printing the part in titanium." And now Musk has posted the video he promised showing off the design process: "Musk showed a wireframe of the rocket part, and he was able to rotate the 3D object on a screen with one hand, and with a second hand, he zoomed in and out, moved it around the screen, and spun the object around and "caught it"--all in the air. He moved on to manipulating an actual 3D CAD model and interacting with the software; you can see that he used a Leap Motion controller. Next, he shows off a 3D projection, a freestanding glass projection (Ironman style), and interacts with the model using the Oculus Rift. Finally, he prints the part in titanium with a 3D metal printer. Note that we don't actually see him design anything; the models he works with are already made. Still, it's exciting to see new ways of doing things come to life on screen."
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Elon Musk Shows His Vision of Holographic Design Technology

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  • by Guano_Jim (157555) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @01:40PM (#44784451)

    This video is some great gee-whiz showmanship, which gets Joe Sixpack excited about technology and maybe sells a few more Tesla cars a couple years down the road.

    But man, I'd hate to try and design anything by holding my hands in the air for six or seven hours a day.

    Might be cool for next-generation Kinect-style gaming though.

  • by MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @01:47PM (#44784495) Homepage

    In a nutshell, he shows a gesture-operated wireframe or shaded model viewer. All that was shown was zoom, rotation and moving the clipping plane. It must be impressive for the non-CAD crowd, but I didn't see anything new that was practical, and there are far better viewers already available.

    Elon Musk tweeted "Will post video next week of designing a rocket part with hand gestures & then immediately printing it in titanium". But the video says he designed the parts in Unigraphics, so it was NOT designed using hand gestures - unless you count using a mouse as "hand gestures".

    Anyone that has used a solids modeling CAD application with a Space Controller in the last 17 years has been able to do pretty much all of this and more (not counting the use of Ti in the printer). But Space Controller + mouse users keep their arms on the desk, rather than waving their arms in the air (fatiguing). So thanks for thinking of us, be we designers do NOT want to hold our hands in the air. We had enough of that crap with light pens.

    In all fairness, the one nice thing the video suggests is the gesture-operated viewer might make sense for a standing presenter. The Space Controller requires a flat surface to rest upon, so gesture-operation might make sense for this application.

  • Nothing special (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tinmith (414125) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @01:54PM (#44784531)

    This kind of thing has been done for years/decades, and is used a lot in industry already. I know of many companies that are taking their CATIA or NX models, and visualizing them in VR or CAVE systems. You can even buy software which has been written to solve this problem for you ... you just buy the VR hardware, load your model in, and you can manipulate it. For example, here is a video of something that you can go and buy right now ... ... the sample video uses a stereo projector and a wand, but you could easily use Leap Motion, a full motion capture system, or whatever hardware you have.

    The gestures he shows in the video are also very primitive, and did not appear very intuitive. He spins his hand in one direction, and the model rotates about a different axis. Just spinning a model around is not really designing anything, it is just a preview technique. And in some ways, using a mouse could probably be less fatiguing and more intuitive. The real holy grail is addressing the problem of creating models from scratch. And making them accurately so the designer gets what they want, and typically designers will probably want to use a keyboard so they can enter in exact dimensions. But this is not addressed in the video, but I'm sure everyone will think that is what they actually can do.

    But because Elon Musk is doing this and now you are seeing it in the popular media, he must have invented it, right?

    If you want to see something really cool, check out this system, the Lockheed SAIL, which was done years and years ago ...

  • by bmo (77928) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @03:11PM (#44784955)

    Then start marketing light pens. Make a new kind that can be used on LCDs.

    See how far that gets you.

    Here's a protip: a lot of the hate pointed at Windows 8 involves a touch interface on a desktop operating system.

    It's not just me. It's over 40 years of UI research.


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