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Sprout Reinvented: Why HP targeted schools and businesses with immersive computing device revamp

By Sarah Murry, Newsroom Managing Editor, HP Inc. — January 4, 2017



Every so often, a new product comes along and offers a new experience, something that goes beyond our imaginations. For HP, that was Sprout, a device that’s part PC, part scanner and part projector, built around the idea that the physical and digital worlds can be blended to open the door to new possibilities.

Admittedly, the concept of merging the two worlds – a process we refer to as Immersive Computing – can be tough for users to comprehend, forcing them to think about real-life applications where the experience could have an impact. Even the inventors themselves don’t always know what to make of their creations. They often imagine one purpose, then quickly discover the market envisions something else. So, they listen, adapt and sometimes reinvent the recently invented. 

“The first product always has to be somewhat of an experiment,” said Brad Short, HP technologist and inventor of the original Sprout by HP. “We do as much as we can in user testing before releasing a product. But until it goes out in the wild and you get user data and real-life feedback, you don't know exactly where it's going or what features will be picked-up and what will resonate with customers."

This week, ahead of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, HP unveiled a refreshed Sprout - called Sprout Pro by HP G2 – just two years after it was introduced as a consumer blended reality device and one year after its launch as a commercial unit. The new model sports a more attractive industrial design and a host of enticing features. 

But more importantly, it comes with an intensified focus on commercial applications – primarily based on the real-life feedback that gave the inventors some insight about the product’s sweet spot.   

What Short and HP heard was that, while consumers were interested in the idea of blending and manipulating 2D and 3D content with Sprout, educators and businesses saw a much bigger upside for the product.

Teachers told us they wanted to use Sprout’s overhead cameras, scanners and projectors to present a blend of physical and digital content to students while enabling more cross-school collaboration. Retailers were interested in embedding Sprout in self-service kiosks that could be used to personalize customer experiences. And manufacturers imagined using Sprout to manage operations and maintain quality control on factory floors.

The feedback helped us to understand the commercial possibilities for Sprout, inspiring us to go back to the drawing board to tackle Sprout’s reinvention. Education, in particular, has huge potential, Short said.

“It introduces students to the notion of 3D, he said. “To be able to scan something quickly and generate custom 3D content that they can manipulate is so immersive and instantaneous that it allows the learning process to be more immediate, to understand why that would be of value. Whole curriculums are now being created around that.”

Sprout Pro G2 is a full redesign of Sprout, intended to appeal to schools and businesses. It’s now sleeker and smaller to fit on most desktops. Resolution on its two monitors – a standard upright and a horizontal Touch Mat – has been aligned with both at near-1080p specs. And the old passive stylus has been replaced with an Active Pen, allowing pressure sensitive digital inking for annotation and design. HP also added several software improvements, including tighter Windows 10 integration and Workspace tools for capturing 2D and 3D content and sharing it with third-party apps.

Short said much of the work on Sprout Pro G2 happened on the back end – with technical tweaks to make operating systems and applications work better together to improve user experience. In the end, all the improvements are about removing obstacles and enabling schools and businesses to work with digital and physical content as part of their core activities.

And of course, as they do that, HP will watch, learn and take guidance from these innovators.

“The first generation of Sprout served the purpose of painting a picture or vision of what this step function in computing might look like where you are blending physical and digital content,” said Short. “With Sprout by HP G2, we’re taking that vision to the next level as part of a re-invention journey that is never-ending.”


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