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Hewlett-Packard’s Sprout brings us one step closer to a reality of gesture-based computing

By Marcus Wong - on 5 Nov 2014, 10:32am

Hewlett-Packard’s Sprout brings us one step closer to a reality of gesture-based computing

Remember the scene in Iron Man where Robert Downey Jr. reaches out to a hologram and manipulates it by twisting and turning his fingers? HP’s new desktop computer is bringing us one step closer towards that by way of the HP illuminator – a clever combination of a 14.6 MP high-resolution camera, DLP projector, and Intel RealSense 3D technology for instant capture of 2D and 3D objects – and the 20” diagonal, 20-point touch-enabled touch mat which also acts as an opaque base for scanning.

While it comes with a keyboard and mouse, Sprout is really meant to be used with your fingers, the included stylus, and the spill-resistant mat. If you need to type anything, the system projects a touch-sensitive keyboard onto the mat (which recognizes up to twenty touches at a time so you can touch type away to your heart’s content.)

The touch sensitive pad recognizes up to twenty touches at a time.

But that’s not all the mat is for. Place an object on the mat for the HP illuminator to scan and the system will create a virtual copy that you can manipulate using a stylus or typical touchscreen controls like swipe and pinch in HP’s Workspace software. HP terms this: ‘blended reality’, and the idea is to bring a tactile sense to ideas and creativity, letting you literally see your ideas take shape on the mat.

For example, through Sprout’s collaboration software, you and your teammates can have a discussion on the main monitor, while working on a shared project on the mat. Apparently Microsoft has already integrated scanning functions into a Sprout-optimized version of Office so you can scan printed text to insert straight into a document, and easily add scanned images into PowerPoint and Word.

It seems the system will be limited to 2D scanning to begin with, but a tilted turntable and 3D-modeling software has been planned for mid-2015, which would really start to make things interesting for graphics and animation workflows. If the scanner looks familiar, it's most likely because the Sprout shares quite a bit in common with the TopShot LaserJet Pro, which also featured innovative 3D scanning capabilities. 

The Sprout runs with an initial configuration of a 3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4790S CPU with 8GB RAM , and a NVIDIA GeForce GT 745A graphics card with 2GB RAM. The main display is a 23-inch 1080p LCD screen, and the machine comes with a 1TB HDD/SSD hybrid drive. There’s an HDMI port, two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, an SD/SDHC/SDXC card reader, and a set of stereo speakers.

For now, the Sprout is only available for preorder as a full system via the HP site in the United States at a cost of USD$1900, but shipments are supposed to go out on November the 9th, so perhaps we’ll see them in the region by early 2015?

Sources: Wired, The Verge, HP

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