US tech firm Hewlett-Packard's (HP) latest computing platform Sprout features a built-in scanner, projector and touch-sensitive workmat to create a "blended reality" computing experience.
The multimedia workstation, which is available in the UK this week, allows users to drag files between the monitor and the touch-sensitive mat, manipulate images using gestures, and collaborate remotely on projects in real time. It is priced at £1,899 ($1,899 in the US).
"It's about blending the physical and digital to create an immersive computing experience," says Gurdave Ahluwalia, ecosystem and partner strategist for HP's immersive computing division.
One of HP's target markets for Sprout is the "prosumer" – consumer-creators with specialist lifestyle interests – and the platform comes with a range of apps for activities such as DJing, music composition and movie editing. Read more about this consumer segment in IFA 2013: Overview.
While the range of applications is currently limited, software giants Microsoft and Adobe are working on how to adapt their suite of products to take advantage of Sprout's added functionality, Ahluwalia told Stylus.
In response to demand from the maker community, HP is also developing 3D scanning software for Sprout, which would allow users to scan any object and instantly create an OBJ file that can read by any 3D printer. The software is slated for launch in June 2015.
Tech firms are harnessing new technologies to create immersive computing experiences that seamlessly blend the real and virtual. Experimental interfaces such as Dizmo and Thaw enable intuitive, cross-device interaction, while augmented reality "thermal touch" systems digitise real-world objects. Read more in our latest Macro Trend, Post-Digital.