Virtual reality meets 3D printing with HP's Sprout Pro

HP's Sprout Pro will ship next month starting at $2,199

HP is updating its innovative Sprout PC, which attempts to blend the real and digital worlds.

The Sprout Pro all-in-one desktop is a souped up version of the original Sprout and retains its two most distinctive features: a touch-sensitive mat that sits on the desk in front of the PC and an arm that extends from above the monitor.

The mat is a large canvas on which real objects can be scanned by a 3D camera in the arm. The arm also contains a projector that displays images on the mat.

Real objects like a coffee cup can be scanned into Sprout, after which a 3D representation of them is displayed on the screen. The 3D models can be turned, reshaped, colored or cropped via hand on the Touch Mat.

The images generated via Sprout Pro can be exported to Autodesk’s Meshmixer or Microsoft’s 3D Builder software in preparation for 3D printing. The images can be used for computer-aided design, or exported to OBJ files for use in games or VR worlds.

Sprout Pro HP

HP's Sprout Pro can be used for 3D image creation and manipulation.

The Touch Mat could also replace a physical keyboard, and users can type on a virtual keyboard projected on the canvas. The Sprout Pro provides an easier and natural way to digitize and manipulate images by hand.

The Sprout Pro is part of HP's strategy to bring virtual and augmented reality to PCs and mobile devices. The company's focus is on creation and manipulation of VR and AR worlds that are shown in headsets. Also part of the strategy is the 23.6-inch Zvr monitor, which allows users to modify objects "in thin air" with a stylus-like pointer and 3D glasses.

Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Nvidia are exploring ways to blend virtual and real worlds in mainstream computing.

Sprout is in its early days, and HP is turning to students to figure out interesting uses for the desktop. HP plans to put Sprout Pro in hundreds of schools. The Sprout Pro will be available next month starting at US$2,199.

It has Intel's latest Core i7 processor code-named Skylake, Nvidia GeForce GT 945A graphics processor, 1TB of storage and 8GB of DDR4 memory (upgradeable to 16GB), 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. It also has two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI 1.4 slot and an Ethernet port.

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