Hewlett-Packard will begin selling its Sprout immersive computing platform through the commercial channel in the United States later this month, with officials noting that the system is getting interest from both commercial organizations and educational institutions.
The system has already been available in such retail outlets as Best Buy and Microsoft Stores. Now U.S. businesses can get the Sprout system from their HP resellers, the company said May 12.
HP introduced the Sprout PC in October 2014, with executives talking about a new "blended reality" environment that includes not only Sprout but a 3D printing initiative that is being developed. At the time, Dion Weisler, executive vice president of HP's Printing and Personal Systems unit, said in a statement that "we are on the cusp of a transformative era in computing and printing. Our ability to deliver blended-reality technologies will reduce the barriers between the digital and physical worlds."
Sprout is an all-in-one PC that brings together a scanner, depth sensor, high-resolution camera and projector to create a single device that is designed to enable users to merge physical objects into a digital workspace. It comes with a 23-inch, full-HD touch-screen, is powered by an Intel Core i7-4790s chip, runs not only Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system but also HP's Workspace—a software platform designed for the system—and includes 8GB of DDR3 memory.
It also uses a GeForce GT 745A graphics card from Nvidia that has 2GB of DDR memory, and a 1TB Serial ATA solid-state hybrid storage drive.
The Sprout also includes a 2-inch HP Touch Mat, HP's Illuminator technology, a high-resolution camera and Intel's RealSense 3D camera. Users can scan 2D and 3D objects and the images stored in the Workspace software and displayed on the touch-screen or touch mat. The images also can be incorporated into applications and, to enable collaboration, users on separate Sprout PCs can see each other on their main screens while working on content on the touch mat. Also, two people can work simultaneously on the touch mat.
The Sprout is a radical departure from traditional PCs and workstations, and comes as the global PC market—and the vendors in it—continue to see shipments decline. IDC analysts in March said they expected PC sales this year to be slower than expected, with shipments worldwide to fall by 4.9 percent from 2014, which had been a stronger-than-expected year. The market is continuing to see pressure on pricing and competition from mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, the analysts said.
Buyers also may be waiting for the release later this year of Microsoft's Windows 10 OS and systems running Intel's upcoming Skylake processor platform, they said.
HP isn't the only PC vendor developing immersive systems. At a user conference in November 2014, Dell officials announced what they called the "smart desk" concept, which includes multi-touch LCD screens, a digital touch-enabled workspace and a stylus. At the Dell World 2014 event, CEO Michael Dell and other executives said that despite the market woes, PCs were still the tools people use to get work done and that they continued to be an important part of the company's future.
HP officials said commercial organizations are looking at Sprout for a range of applications, including customizing educational programs for classrooms, creating storyboards, improving collaboration on marketing campaigns and developing interactive retail environments. On the education side, such capabilities as dynamic content creation and collaboration are leading to initiatives around course work and remote tutoring.
The Sprout's release also comes months before HP splits into two companies. One—Hewlett-Packard Enterprise—will sell enterprise IT solutions and services and will be led by current HP CEO Meg Whitman, while the other—HP Inc.—will sell PCs and printers, with Weisler as its CEO.