HP’s vision for the future of PCs: the 3D Sprout

HP has unveiled an “immersive” 3D computing system dubbed Sprout.

It’s a desktop with a full HD touchscreen, as well as a projector and 3D camera. That means you scan in a 3D object, and then manipulate it on screen or 3D print it, and interact with projects and apps with your hands, rather than a mouse, by moving your hands or a stylus underneath the depth camera.

HP Sprout

Sprout also allows collaboration: users can video conference on the main display and then interact with the same document – whether it’s photos or spreadsheets – on the “canvas” in front of the machine. If you’re still a fan of keyboards, you can project one onto the canvas – or take a break with piano keys.

hp sprout

It’s not only the hardware: HP has also made its own software, and already has apps from Evernote, Microsoft Office, Skype and more. “The technology here will be extended to new form factors – mobile form factors and others,” said Ron Coughlin, senior vice president of imaging and printing.

It runs an Intel fourth-gen Core i7 chip, has 8GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and a 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen display. It uses an Intel RealSense camera and also has a 14.6-megapixel scanner.

HP said it would go on sale for $1,899 on 9 November at BestBuy and Microsoft Stores, but only in limited locations; UK availability wasn’t known at the time of publishing, but HP said it would eventually roll out to other countries.

Watch an HP video about Sprout below:


3D printing

HP has stepped into the 3D printing market with a “disruptive” new technology dubbed “multi jet fusion”. While most associate 3D printing with commercial machines spray melted plastic, which can be slow and prone to errors, HP’s technology is closer to laser sintering, which uses lasers to heat and fuse powders.

HP’s system puts down a layer of powdered material in a similar way to an ink jet printer, and then applies a fusing agent using as many as 30,000 nozzles spraying up to 350 million drops a second, and then exposes it to an energy source to fuse it; that process is repeated to build the object.

HP’s president of printers Steve Nigro said it was more than ten times as fast as existing systems, and printed objects more cheaply and to a higher quality. Plus he promised sharper colours, and the ability to change the texture of a part or its properties – such as making one section elastic.

“It’s not just a 3D printer, it’s a tool to trigger the next industrial revolution,” said Dion Weisler, head of personal systems group and the future CEO for HP Inc.

The HP multi jet fusion 3D printer is targeted at commercial and enterprise users, not consumers, though HP suggested it may move into other markets eventually. It will be available in 2016.

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