back to article Tesla tops $20bn as Elon Musk claims arm-wave design tech

In a very meta piece of invention, PayPal hecamillionaire Elon Musk has promised that the 3D gesture-hologram system used by Musk-inspired Tony Stark in the Iron Man movies could soon be a reality. The entrepreneur tweeted that he had come up with a way to let people design industrial parts with a few waves of their hands. …


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  1. Evil Auditor

    Designing rockets with gesturing in the air... not sure how this helps selling seats for space journeys.

    Btw, gesture design - should we call that Italian or French design?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Gesture design - should we call that Italian or French design?

      Be careful what you wish for!

      Was it 'designed' or was it the unfortunate result of a French or Italian moment of rage?

      1. Tom 35

        Re: Gesture design - should we call that Italian or French design?

        Did your rocket part end up as a Klein Bottle?

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Gesture Design is obviously Italian, and will obviously be fabulous. If it were French, it would be called Glaring Design, and you would know it's your fault even before you build it.

      1. Salafrance Underhill

        Vive la France, you engleesh silleh person!

    3. Ottis

      One wonders how many more white flag designs are needed by the French...

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        > white flag designs

        This joke is getting pretty stale, especially as "the French" are totally on board the latest USUK freakshow of starting yet another illegal war in the next week or so. Another Black Bomber / Rice / Hague / SarkozyHollande production.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Homer musk

    Real things have gizmo's inside . That's why your one wont work

  3. me n u

    Hell with Elon, what's Robert Downey say about this? After all, he's Iron Man. :)

    1. Salafrance Underhill

      Pfft! He wishes...

      We all know Elon Musk is the real Iron Man.

  4. Khaptain

    Battery life

    I would be nice if he could invent a battery that lasted for 5000 miles and a car that cost no more than 5000 dollars ( without the options )..

    1. Gob Smacked

      Re: Battery life

      Barfing sour grapes, eh ?

    2. Adam Foxton

      Re: Battery life

      They already did that. It's called Petrol. Or Diesel. Or jet fuel*. Or external combustion. Or CNG. Or, if you're really desperate for range, nuclear!

      If you like your explosions huge and frequent and spares costly, Hydrogen could do a decent job as well.

      Basically, there are a LOT of options for longer-range / lower-cost vehicles already. Why try to shoehorn in a technology that doesn't work for it and isn't meant for it when there are plenty of decent alternatives?

      *which can be made carbon-neutral as shown by DARPA's experiments with nuclear-powered fuel-generators reported on el reg a couple of years ago

      1. Salafrance Underhill

        Re: Battery life

        Thing is, once you sort the electric drivetrain, you can replace the energy source, in the future, with anything that works. Internal combustion is a one-trick pony, Jeremy Clarkson's history of butthurt over electric vehicles notwithstanding. Guys, I know you love all of that cryptosexual male bonding behaviour and stuff, but Jeremy Clarkson is a fat, middle-aged bloke with loud opinions. He's not God; he's not Einstein and he's not your father.

      2. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Battery life

        >>They already did that. It's called Petrol. Or Diesel.

        I never drove a car that could do 5000 miles on a tank of gas. Or that cost $5000 new.

    3. HMB

      Re: Battery life in the mean time you won't be nice? :P

      Well... you're basically looking at a 20 fold increase in battery performance with a 20 fold reduction in car price.

      I'm going to guess you're a manager who's stumbled onto the computer of an engineer and found this site by accident.

      If it makes you feel better maybe I can ask Elon Musk for a 20 fold increase in my wage and a 20 fold decrease in price for any houses I want to buy.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Battery life

        Well... you're basically looking at a 20 fold increase in battery performance with a 20 fold reduction in car price.

        Unless you pay $100 000 for your cars (in which case I have a bridge you might be interested in buying), isn't it more like a 2 to 5 fold decrease in price the OP is asking for. I don't think it's unreasonable to think that car manufacturers could produce a basic model car (although probably not an electric one with the current state of the technology) at this price and still make some profit. After all, a basic car is just a metal chassis, four wheels, engine, steering and transmission, plus regulation safety measures. It would be interesting to see the costs.

        Also, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for a battery which lasts for more than 5000 miles; again I don't think the OP was asking for this in a single charge, but rather referring to the lifetime of the battery itself, and I don't think such improvements are beyond the reach of near-future developments in battery technology.

        1. Zaphod.Beeblebrox

          Re: Battery life

          "I don't think the OP was asking for [5000 miles] in a single charge, but rather referring to the lifetime of the battery itself"

          Um, no, pretty sure the OP wanted 5000 miles in a single charge. I'm pretty sure the batteries in electric cars already last 5000 miles - in fact, Tesla claims that their batteries will retain 70% of their capacity after 5 years and 50,000 miles.

          1. Khaptain

            Re: Battery life

            I can confirm as the OP my remark was for 5000 on a single charge.

            Hell, we can send spacecraft to Mars and fly to Australia non-stop but a car always seems limited to approx 650 Miles ( 1000Kms) for a relatively modern low consumption model. ( I knowe that there are other constraints and factors but common I am sure that they know how to greatly improve consumption already, it's just that they haven't completed the financial model).)

            I love the idea of electric cars, I hate the idea of them being very, very expensive although I know that this is not Musks' own fault... If I buy a car which keeps my tied down to the provider of Electric or Fossil fuel I will never attain the freedom that "transport" pretentiously offers.

            1. James Micallef Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Battery life

              Well, petrol / diesel have a much higher energy density than batteries ever can have even at the theoretical level. I think the limit of current production cars is around 800 miles on a single tank. Of course it's possible to go up to 5000, but you would need to use up all the space in the boot and rear seat as a giant fuel tank. Considering that it takes 10 minutes to stop and refuel, it makes no sense on a conventional production car to sacrifice that sort of space just so you can drive across a continent without refuelling.

              Of course if it's a one-off car designed exactly to do that (eg for some rally, promotional or scientific purpose etc), it's perfectly possible to do in a diesel car. But with batteries.... don't hold your breath

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Battery life

            "in fact, Tesla claims that their batteries will retain 70% of their capacity after 5 years and 50,000 miles"

            Wooohoo. My diesel car retains 100% of its tank capacity after five years. Electric car owners must be very easily pleased.

            What is 70% of not much?

            1. JDX Gold badge

              Re: Battery life

              >>Wooohoo. My diesel car retains 100% of its tank capacity after five years

              Think before speaking. The tank doesn't lose capacity but the engine WILL lose power and the mpg WILL deteriorate... net effect, a full tank will not get you as far as it did when new.

              1. BeerTokens

                Re: Battery life

                Also if you are running your tank down to near empty each time over five years expect some crud to get into your engine.

                You're probably best to only useing the top 70% of your tank after five years just to be on the safe side :)

          3. Andy Hards

            Re: Battery life

            And I could claim I have a 12 inch cock. Doesn't make it true!

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "High frame rate hologram generator."

    That might be a teensy bit of a problem.

    Conceptually you can view this as a 3d display, with "voxels" (as the MI people call them) and 3 scanning light sources (that does not necessarily need a LASER system).

    OTOH you can go with real holograms so you need to generate a 2d interference pattern (recorded from the imaginary object and a LASER reference beam inside the computer) then write that on the display and illuminate with your real LASER.

    About 50-70 times a second. or 3 of them (different because of the wavelengths) superimposed to give a color hologram.

    Back in the day I guessed something with Surface Acoustic Waves would be the way to go but no one seems to have run with it.

    After that I'm guessing the finger sized motion tracking in real time will be a piece of odure.

    1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

      Re: "High frame rate hologram generator."

      Glad it's not just me that read that and saw that Musk has solved the easy part and glossed over the hard. Hand tracking? It's called a Kinect. Slap yet another new UI on AutoCAD and you've got the design software. The hard part remains, er, hard.

      1. Stevie

        Re: The hard part remains, er, hard

        The *hard* part about designing rocket parts is, surely, knowing something about designing rocket parts. Moving a drawing about by waving the hands is clever, but unnecessary to the job of building rockets, which can be done using completely mechanical design aids and calculation devices.

        We know this because, well, people did it that way during those years that space was actually exciting and inspiring for people *not* sitting on the top of the rockets.

        Slide rule and drafting table era: "We'll go to the moon and have moonbases and space stations people can visit"

        Calculator and Visual Display Terminal to Mainframe era: We'll build a reusable space Mac Truck that can get to LEO. Maybe we'll do something space stationy, but only the elite will actually get there.

        PC and iPad era: Well go to Mars. Honest. Someday. Right now we have to pay the Russians for our last trip to what little of the Space Station that actually saw the light of day.

        Thrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp BoP

        1. Salafrance Underhill

          Re: The hard part remains, er, hard

          Buuut, he already knows something about building rockets; or at least his orange jump-suited flunkeys know such lore. All he's suggesting is that a new approach to 3D design is, possibly, a smart idea. As he appears to be genuinely bright as opposed to merely pretending to the throne in the manner of legions of acerbic internets experts, perhaps he has a point.

      2. JDX Gold badge

        Re: "High frame rate hologram generator."

        Why do you need a hologram for it to work... why not a pair of augmented-reality glasses which simply makes it look like there is a hologram?

        1. Salafrance Underhill

          Re: "High frame rate hologram generator."

          Totally. I think he's shuffling off the end of the pier in the sheer exhilaration of pursuing a cool idea, but I think the basic idea is noteworthy.

    2. Salafrance Underhill

      Re: "High frame rate hologram generator."

      It could work with 3D goggles/glasses vision system, and seriously, I think any 3D design package could benefit from genuine 3D visualisation and 3D interaction. Restricting such systems to a 2D rendition of a fundamentally three-dimensional problem is so mediaeval, amirite?

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: "High frame rate hologram generator." @Salafrance

        In actual design 2D and 3D are inextricably linked. Both have distinct advantages and disadvantages. Engineers won't be going pure 3D for a long time, if ever, as only a poor engineer disregards another way to view a part or system.

        An often overlooked advantage of a good ole blueprint is the fact you can scribble on it, fold it, spindle it or otherwise modify it with no limitations or software knowledge required. Software can seriously stifle creativity if one isn't careful. You'd be surprised at how many extraordinarily complex problems get solved, and ultimately sent into space, when a frustrated engineer on his sixth pint looks at the blueprint turned upside down on a table.

        Visioning systems are neat and they show future promise, but as of now, they simply cannot provide that 'feel' of a traditionally viewed drawing or model. Maybe someday, but not now.

  6. kyza

    Musk-inspired Tony Stark

    Would it be wrong to point out that Iron Man first appeared in 1963, 8 years before Musk was born?

    1. Pete Spicer

      That's true, however I'm reasonably sure the current look and feel of Tony Stark had something to do with Elon Musk; did the original Iron Man comics have the same lovely holographic imagery and handwaving UIs?

      1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        just one bloke's opinion...

        ... but I think "movie Tony Stark" has more to do with personality and acting methods of the one portraying him than any influence of Elon Musk.

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        > holographic imagery and handwaving UIs

        Japanese animation was there before.

    2. Salafrance Underhill

      It's one of them temporal paradox fings, mate.

  7. BornToWin


    In addition to making lots of money, does Musk make lots of meritless claims?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Y-A-W-N

      Well he's proposed the re-invention of evacuated tube transport. And although not original, it's a better idea than the sort of HS2 w@nk proposed by the trainspotters.

  8. Christian Berger

    Sure, but the problem is...

    is it any more efficient than doing it the "old fashioned way", for example by twisting knobs on an analogue computer or by using a keyboard?

    Sure you can always do something in a new and exciting way, but will it actually be better than the way you did it before?

    1. Salafrance Underhill

      Re: Sure, but the problem is...

      Well, you could do 2 dimensional hardware design by using the time axis and a one dimensional bit-stream and, okay, perhaps that's how it happens at the lower levels, but does anyone think that's a good way for humans to design things?

  9. Euripides Pants

    I am not going to make an IM suit

    Good. Why anyone would want an Instant Messaging suit is beyond me...

  10. fritsd

    Not Iron, no..

    (Off-camera comment after the interview) Titanium Man > Iron Man, MUHaHahAha!!1!

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Not Iron, no..

      I see someone doesn't know their comics history.

      Iron Man has fought several versions of Titanium Man over the years, and it always ends the same;

      At some point Titanium Man's suit hits combustion point, and the schmuck inside gets incinerated.

      (Once titanium starts burning, It's damned hard to extinguish, and freakin' HOT!)

  11. Anonymous Coward

    "Now need a high frame rate holograph generator."

    Eh, once I have that working, there are other, more important uses for it......

    (Goes back to writing holoprogram "MHack SwedishBikiniTeam1")

  12. Salafrance Underhill


    I thought I'd lost my sense of humour, but in retrospect, I think I've been listening to too many Americans on Slashdot.

  13. Chris G Silver badge

    Tesla 'S'

    Just saw one of these in the flesh the other day, a very Jaguar inspired car styling wise, beautiful, fast and a a reasonable 426Km range,

    The driver said the price was €73.000 and the company that bought it is using it to run VIPs to the executive terminal at Ibiza airport. Very eery to see it take off like a Ferrari without making a sound.

    If I had that kind of money I would consider one.

    I think Musk knows what he is doing to some degree and obviously is not a complete numpty having made a few millions more than most of us.

    As for the Arm-Wave tech while the design of rocket motors may be questionable using this technique, it must have a lot of applications in other areas of Art and design; architecture, fashion, concept development etc.

    1. Steven Raith
      Thumb Up

      Re: Tesla 'S'

      Boom - the Tesla S is competing with high end 5-series saloons (up to and, in terms of pace, including the M5) and it's not damned far from it in price, performance or (in the case of the hilariously thirsty and under-tanked V10) range. Drive an M5 like it was meant to be, you're looking at well below 200 miles from a tank. Although I can't think of many nicer sounding ways to burn fuel. Whoop whoop is the sound of a highly strung V10, etc.

      Ok, it's subsidised, but as a proof of concept, it's a hammerblow to those who claim you can't make a usable everyday leccy car.

      I quite like the Tesla S in a way that I never liked the Roadster as it was 'just' an electric, heavy Elise and it felt like a cheap shot. That said, if it's helped push electric cars into the mainstream - and it undoubtedly has - then it's a good thing.

      Steven R

      PS: Other V10s of note include the Carerra GT, which in terms of sounds is up there with 'Vulcan take off howl' in the knee-wobbling effect it has on me....

  14. AndyMc

    He should talk to these guys

  15. cloudgazer

    not a hecamillionaire anymore

    He's a billionaire now, he has 28 million shares of Tesla, at $160 each.

  16. dan1980

    So, just to clear this up, is Mr Musk saying he can design a rocket from the ground-up in this fashion or that he can select from a bunch of pre-designed components and wave them into place?

    Not that the latter system wouldn't have it's uses, just that it's not quite designing a rocket.

  17. the spectacularly refined chap Silver badge

    Meanwhile, in the real world...

    ...this will have absolutely no effect on anything of real value.

    I'm only a sporadic CAD user, mainly enclosures for embedded systems but occasionally functional mechanical parts. However, even I know that mousing a line exactly 182.44mm long is completely impossible. Yet alone drawing that line corner which intersects the this line 12.83 tan 34.4⁰ from the end of that line.

    There's a reason AutoCAD et al still retain a command line as an integral part of their UIs. An input mode even less precise than a mouse isn't going to change that.

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