Hewlett Packard is launching a new desktop computer in the UK that aims to help designers move seamlessly between physical and digital platforms by implementing both a vertical touchscreen and a horizontal touchpad. The machine is an interesting combination of a conventional desktop PC, a scanner, a high resolution camera and a tablet, which is quite unlike anything the UK computer market has seen before. It was launched in the US last October and will be available in the UK from February 26.
Hewlett Packard is launching a new desktop computer in the UK
Called “Sprout,” the computer was designed by the Native Design consultancy. It projects the second screen to a clear pad at the users' fingertips. This space can be used as a traditional keyboard, a touchpad, or to scan physical objects into the computer for manipulation. This also means, of course, that there is fantastic potential in the machine for 3D printing enthusiasts. Indeed, interior designer Sophie Conran and her the son Felix Conran, have both already been using the Sprout in conjunction with 3D printing software. Felix said the Sprout is “An interaction between the old and the new,” and Sophie calls it “A very tactile, craft tool that allows you to use your imagination and put ideas together.” It also has the capability to scan printed documents, which can then be edited through word processing.
The Sprout features both a vertical touchscreen and a horizontal touchpad
Brad Short, chief product architect of the Sprout, said they were “Trying to revolutionise the way scanning happens.” He said that generally, “You have to move away from your device to scan, which is cumbersome and a chore,” so we thought, “What if you could scan things using cameras?” He says the second, projected screen was added because using your hands on a vertical screen simply isn't very ergonomic. A flat service, however, “Allows you to use your fingers very naturally, through drawing, painting, cutting, pasting and collaging with real content on your desk.” Short says that many artists have been using the system alongside traditional methods. He uses the example of one artist, who creates most of their work using dipped parchment, but has used the Sprout to generate multiple patterns by placing the water in a shallow container and taking photos of it on the touch mat. He said the new technology “Creates a mixed media look with an artistic signature of its own.”
There is fantastic potential in the machine for 3D printing enthusiasts
It's not just artists who will find inventive uses for the Sprout either. It also contains numerous applications via its own bespoke marketplace, including virtual DJ software, piano tuition programs, story producers and more, including various bespoke gaming experiences. The device also contains 20 points of touch, meaning that two people can use both screen simultaneously using all ten fingers. Short says they “Wanted to make computing and the creative process more accessible to everyone.” As for why it's called the Sprout? Short says the name intentionally “breaks away from convention.” He calls it “Organic and natural, and also based on the concept that all large trees start with a tiny sprout,” insinuating that this humble device is “The start of a new way of using desktop computers.”