Hewlett-Packard has built a $US299 accessory for its Sprout PC that should allow it to function as a fairly accurate 3D scanner.
The 3D Capture Stage is a circular stand that sits under the Sprout's RealSense 3D camera. It's angled at 15 degrees and rotates slowly, allowing the Sprout to capture up to eight separate scans that are then combined into a 3D image.
That image can be manipulated via the Sprout's touch-sensitive Touch Mat surface. Objects can be turned, reshaped, colored, cropped and then exported to Autodesk's Meshmixer or Microsoft's 3D Builder software in preparation for 3D printing.
$US299 sounds like a lot for a piece of plastic with a motor inside, but it could make the Sprout more useful to engineers and animators. The accessory will go on sale next month, HP said.
The objects can't be larger than 200 millimeters along any side. HP gave the example of Claymation models as something the 3D Capture Stage would be ideal for.
HP has been experimenting with "blended reality" in recent products like Sprout and the 23.6-inch Zvr monitor, which allows users to modify objects "in thin air" using a stylus-like pointer and 3D glasses.
The goal is to bring virtual and augmented reality to its PC and mobile products, and to ultimately build a product line to support its nascent 3D printing plans. Microsoft, Google, Nvidia, AMD and Facebook are all also exploring ways to blend the virtual and real worlds in mainstream computing.