By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Last week, Elon Musk – who seriously seems like the busiest man on the planet – announced he was working on a way to design rocket parts with just the waving of his hands. I thought it sounded a lot like the technology from the Iron Man movies, when Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.) twists and turns the 3D images of his designs in the air with a flick of the wrist. Jon Favreau, the movie’s director, also noted how similar the real-world tech was. Musk admitted that Iron Man was indeed where his inspiration came from for hand-motion-controlled computers. After his high-tech tease, he then promised to show the world how it worked the following week. Well, Musk made good on his word and posted a video!
The computer screen looks just like a regular monitor, but it can sense hand motions and respond to them. As shown in the video below, Musk pretends to grab a rocket model on-screen. As he pivots his wrist, the virtual model moves accordingly. When he raises both his arms and pretends to stretch the rocket engine, the model zooms in, just like it does with Stark in his lab! Musk has already incorporated 3D projections into the motion-controlled computer, so it feels like the object is “right there in front of you.”
The 3D models don’t stop there, however. If an engineer wanted to bring their designs to life, they can print them out! Not on a piece of paper, but as an actual physical creation. Musk uses a metal “extrusion” machine, which is a 3D printer that can fashion metal-like titanium. Suddenly, what were once merely computer models of rocket engines, are built into fully functioning test prototypes!
Images and video courtesy of SpaceX and Elon Musk.