Not satisfied with designing the 600mph Hyperloop train, billionaire and serial entrepreneur Elon Musk has created a motion-controlled computer system he likens to that of Tony Stark in the Iron Man films.
The virtual 3D computer display used by Robert Downey Jr's character Tony Stark in Iron Man (left) compared to a similar system developed by serial entrepreneur Elon Musk (right).
Using off-the-shelf components like a Leap Motion sensor, Oculus Rift and a number of projectors, Musk has created a system whereby a designer can manipulate a virtual 3D object on a screen using only their hands.
In a YouTube video, the PayPal and Tesla founder shows how hand gestures can be used to move a CAD (computer aided design) model around on a 3D screen; moving two hands apart zooms in, like the pinch-to-zoom movement on a smartphone.
Moving away from a conventional computer display, Musk has also developed his system to project images onto a glass screen, a feature he likens to the laboratory used by Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark character in the Iron Man films.
Musk appeared briefly as himself in Iron Man 2, and it is widely claimed that Downey Jr based his Tony Stark character partly on that of the South African-born entrepreneur.
The system is demonstrated by showing components manufactured by his SpaceX company, which develops reusable rockets for transporting items to the International Space Station; SpaceX was the first private company to send a payload to the ISS in May of last year and is currently developing resuable rockets capable of landing themselves on return to earth.
Although impressive, Musk admits that, for now, it's just "a fun way to interact with a complex model," but he still remains confident that his concept has a more useful future. "I believe we're on the verge of a major breakthrough in design and manufacturing," Musk says in the video.
Instead of using keyboards and computer mice, Musk envisions a future whereby systems like his are used as a more natural interface for transforming ideas into reality. He believes the system will allow users to "take something from your mind to a physical object with far greater ease than we currently do."
Combining his concept with 3D printing, Musk believes the system is "going to revolutionise design and manufacturing in the 21st century."
However, in a move disappointingly similar to the Hyperloop public transport system recently announced by Musk, the entrepreneur gives no indication of when his motion-controlled computer system would be commercially available.
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