Unorthodox Sprout PC looks like a 3D printer's dream machine


— 6:00 AM on June 12, 2015

When we think of PCs for creative types, most of us would probably name some tricked-out Windows workstation or a high-end Mac—traditional PCs turned up to 11, in a sense. That's why HP's Sprout is so striking. Though this PC was apparently announced with little fanfare last year, it's back in the news thanks to a new twist on its 3D scanning capabilities. More on that in a moment.

This downright weird system packs a projector and one of Intel's RealSense depth-sensing cameras into a big hump atop its display, along with a more traditional 14-megapixel camera for imaging flat objects. A capacitive touch mat takes the place of the traditional mouse and keyboard, and the overhead projector overlays application-specific interfaces on that surface.

With the RealSense camera, it's possible to place reasonably-sized objects on the touch mat and scan them in as 3D models. That process has apparently been simplified with a nifty-sounding turntable accessory called the 3D Capture Stage, as seen above. This device rotates and tilts the object in question automatically, ensuring a high-quality scan. Users can then manipulate the resulting scans by hand using the touch mat.

While the Sprout might not take over the PC market, there does seem to be a place for its unique feature set given the advent of hobbyist 3D printing and modeling. All of that scanning and projecting tech doesn't come cheap, though. The Sprout itself is available today for $1900, while the capture stage will be an extra $300 when it ships in July.

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