HP wants to blur the lines between digital and physical creativity and believes the answer is the Sprout, a truly novel new computer that lets people get hands on with designs, literally.
An all-in-one PC with an integrated 3D scanner, a projector and a 20-inch touch mat where the keyboard would traditionally sit, the Sprout is meant to represent what HP calls the latest in ‘blended reality'.
What that means is that you can place an object on the mat and the scanner will capture it in three dimensions. Then the projector will project the digitized image onto the mat and you can manipulate it with your hands.
‘Touch' it, turn it around, pull it and stretch it -- think Iron Man -- the computer uses an array of cameras to track your position relative to the object so that everything moves and flows smoothly.
The computer also offers an interesting take on the concept of the second screen -- the 20-inch touch mat also works as a display that can show everything from graphics to palettes and control nobs in editing and manipulation applications, minimizing clutter on the PC's main 23-inch display.
But creating and manipulating digital images is just the start. Once you've finished playing at Tony Stark you can hit print and send it to HP's first 3D printer -- the Multi Jet Fusion.
"We live in a 3D world, but today we create in a 2D world on existing devices," said Ron Coughlin, senior vice president, Consumer PC & Solutions, HP. "Sprout by HP is a big step forward in reimagining the boundaries of how we create and engage with technology to allow users to move seamlessly from thought to expression."
Away from virtual reality manipulation, the Sprout PC is also a traditional desktop. It runs the latest version of Windows and packs a Core i7 Intel processor, Nvidia graphics and has a 1TB hard disk so should be equally impressive at doing less Iron Man things such as running Photoshop, gaming and video editing.
And it will have to be good at the more traditional things because although the Sprout will be going on sale in November in the US for $1899.99, HP's first 3D printers won't be coming to market until 2016.