HP’s Sprout PC is like a real version of Iron Man’s JARVIS. 3D scanning PC melds the physical and the virtual.
The Sprout projector houses a DLP projector, 3D camera, and a light.
You know in Iron Man 2 when Tony Stark has JARVIS scan the diorama of Stark Expo and then manipulates a computerized version of the model with his hands?
HP today unveiled the peculiarly named Sprout, a PC that will let creative professionals do the same… more or less.
The all-in-one desktop PC has an integrated 3D scanner that can digitize physical objects and a projector with a 20-inch touch-sensitive mat. The 3D scanner uses Intel’s RealSense 3D capture, which combines the images from multiple cameras to construct its 3D models; it can also capture 14 megapixel 2D images. Both the 3D scanner and the projector point at the touch mat, creating a workspace enabling the “physical” manipulation of digital objects.
Aside from its special scanner and touch mat, the Sprout is a regular Windows 8.1 PC with a Core i7-4790S processor, Nvidia GeForce GT 745A GPU, 8GB RAM, 23-inch 1920×1080 touchscreen, and 1TB hard disk with an 8GB SSD accelerator.
HP is calling this fusion of digital and physical “blended reality.” Sprout, which HP styles as an “immersive computer,” is one part of that, bringing physical objects into the digital world. HP also has eyes on the other half of the story: putting digital objects into the physical world with 3D printers.
HP is planning to produce 3D printers using a new HP-developed technology called Multi Jet Fusion. The company claims that this process will offer greater precision than common fused deposition printers (which build objects from small drops of plastic fused together) and lower prices and better performance than selective laser sintering printers (which use a laser to fuse metal powder).
Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers will use a multistep process that combines particles of a bulk material with a fusing agent, which makes the material fuse together, and a detailing agent, which prevents fusing. As with other 3D printing processes, objects are built up layer by layer; first the material, then the fusing agent, and then the detailing agent are applied. The final step is to heat the entire layer. When heated, only the parts exposed to the fusing agent will stick together. HP claims that this process, with these multiple steps and materials, enables high performance, fine detail, and good surface finishes.
The process will also be flexible, allowing additional agents to be introduced. For example, colored agents could be used to enable 3D printing of multicolor objects. HP says that other properties, such as elasticity, opacity, or even electrical conductivity, could in principle be controlled on a drop-by-drop basis.
The Sprout PC will be available this month, November 2014, priced at $1,900. Multi Jet Fusion printers, however, won’t be available until 2016.
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