October 31, 2014 weblog
HP announces Sprout—a truly innovative workstation
Hewlett-Packard Co has announced the development of a new kind of computer workstation—one that combines the power of a desktop computer with 3D scanning and projection—and adds a second display surface that is actually a touchpad. The workstation, called the Sprout will go on sale next week for $1,899.
The Sprout is something new, and because of that, its uses will most likely become apparent over time—and it takes some explaining to understand. The workstation has several parts, the main one is a computer (with 1tb of storage) running Windows 8, hidden behind its 23 inch display screen, another is a touchpad the size of a display screen, and yet another is an overhead 3 camera-scanner/projector. A mouse can be connected as well though it would seem moot—same with a keyboard as the system can display a virtual one on the touchpad. The point of the system is to combine elements in the real world with virtual objects, to create something new—something that might wind up represented as a real-world physical object printed by the new 3D printer that HP has also recently announced. HP calls it a Blended Reality ecosystem.
To understand the Sprout, requires an example. Say for instance, you want to create a new paper airplane design—a good way to start with the Sprout would be to make a paper airplane the old-fashioned way and then place it on the touch pad, where the scanner can grab a 3D rendering of it. That 3D rendering can then be viewed on either the computer display, or projected down onto the touchpad. It can be manipulated on either with the fingers, turning it around, for example, to get different views. Then, the touchpad can be used as a design-board (using a stylus or fingers) to adjust some of the plane's physical attributes, to come up with a new design. Once satisfied, the plane could conceivably be printed using HP's new 3D printer, (though it won't be made of paper).
Like all innovative ideas, no one really knows how people may use the Sprout—as a computer, a design workstation, a gaming console or something else completely. Its future will likely also depend very heavily on whether customers find uses for it relatively quickly—if not, HP could pull the plug on the whole idea and write it off as a bit of whimsy.
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