Elon Musk Using Leap Motion For Rocket Design

That the SpaceX CEO used the Leap to help create a rocket part suggests the unwieldy gesture controller could be useful one day

Sep 5, 2013

Though I was frustrated just trying to get the Leap Motion 3-D gesture controller to work well with video games (see “Look Before You Leap Motion”), Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is experimenting with a much more complicated use for the device: designing rocket parts.

In a video released Thursday afternoon and narrated by Musk, employees of rocket maker SpaceX are shown using a Leap Motion device to manipulate a virtual rocket engine model, viewing it on several different display technologies, including an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

The video also shows someone apparently designing a rocket’s cryogenic valve housing, with Musk’s voiceover saying, “You can really apply your intuition and take something from your mind to a physical object with far greater ease than we currently do.”

The video then shows the part being printed by a 3-D laser metal printer.

Though we probably won’t be using gesture-control systems to design many rockets (real or toy) in the near future, the video does give a neat sneak peek at what may eventually be possible as the technology evolves.