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Elon Musk Shows His Vision of Holographic Design Technology 109

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 bmo ( 77928 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @01:56PM (#44784545)

    I think it's great. Somebody with capital and grand long term visions.

    Even when you have money and a long term vision, some ideas are just dumb. Like the Segway.

    This is one of them.

    There's a reason why you only see interfaces like this in the movies, and it's not because the technology isn't there. It's because waving your hands in the air for a whole workday sucks. Someone in this thread mentioned light pens. When you no longer had to hold your arm up to the screen because of the popularity of the mouse, light pens disappeared from everyone's desks.

    This interface sucks even in concept.


  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:00PM (#44784569)

    The hard part is the real science and engineering behind the part. The deep understanding of the material characteristics that are the result of the the metal and the manufacturing process. The lifetime of the part and how it's affected by it's use history. The stress and vibration the part endures. What safety margins you need. And how to get all that in a cost effective way.

    Making a 3D image is not engineering the part. It's just a drawing from the most trivial aspect - the dimensions of the part.

  • Mod parent up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:20PM (#44784671) Homepage

    Mod parent up.

    Look at the video around 1:54, where Musk is saying "go in there and do what you need to do". But all the video actually shows is someone spinning the model around and using a visual cutting plane to display cross sections. At no point in that video is new geometry created. What I was expecting to see was a breakthrough in how to do engineering design in 3D. It's not there.

    Back in the late 1980s, Autodesk built a virtual reality system as an experiment in CAD. They got about as far as Musk, although at lower resolution - you could look at models and manipulate them with a gloves-and-goggles interface, but trying to draw surfaces in free space was really hard. Some people can do it. They can also do clay models freehand. Today, there's Autodesk Mudbox, a 3D sculpting tool which is used by pros who can visualize clearly and in detail in 3D. Watch this video [youtube.com] to see one at work. That's impressive work. Now see something similar done with 3D input devices. [doc-ok.org] It's like trying to sculpt while wearing oven mittens, and the results are awful.

    Somebody will eventually make this work, but the computer, not the human, will be doing most of the design.

  • by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:28PM (#44784715)

    If you watch the video, it's easy to see why nobody demoed designing an actual part—the latency of a Leap Motion is just horrible. So bad that if you don't move your hands very very slowly, it will completely miss the motion.

    We really really need a new generation of input devices. Not just to deal with things like the Oculus Rift, but because we're trying to do more things in less time. The mouse is great, but people forget that the only reason the mouse is so great is because it has what is effectively dedicated circuit paths right into the CPU and GPU, including GPU circuits created for the sole purpose of displaying its cursor. The first mice weren't nearly so responsive. Their designers eventually came to the conclusion that the system needed hardware support for a mouse pointer, with little or no software stack at all. In consequence, a mouse has 4 milliseconds of latency. Leap Motion (and everything else) has 250 times that latency. Nothing will compete with the mouse until it can match mouse latency, and that's not going to happen without more cooperation from the rest of the system.

    Why do movies like Minority Report and Ironman look so good to us? Because the actor was filmed waving his hands around in empty space, then the computer displays were added in after the fact by special effect artists. And guess which frame the special effect artists painted the reaction in? The exact same frame the motion happened in. So it looks fantastic. Instantly responsive. Unless and until these interfaces actually are that responsive, they will get nowhere.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:39PM (#44784803)

    What's wrong with a Segway?

    It's too expensive. Amazon is selling the consumer model for ~$6k. A new, really cheap small car can cost $12k. An cheap electric bicycle can cost less than $1k, and a Honda moped can be had for a little over $2k.

BLISS is ignorance.