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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »

HP Introduces Wearable Commercial VR System – The HP Z VR Backpack

August 3rd, 2017 by Jeff Rowe

This week at SIGGRAPH, HP today announced a unified approach and commercial solutions for virtual reality (VR), positioning itself as a provider for businesses looking to reduce concept to production cycle times, improve training procedures, and deliver fully immersive customer experiences using VR. As part of this strategy, the company unveiled what it claims is the world’s first professional-grade wearable VR PC – the new HP Z VR Backpack. Designed to realize a fuller potential of VR, it is, as the company claims, a secure and manageable wearable VR PC.

“Virtual reality is changing the way people learn, communicate and create,” said Xavier Garcia, vice president and general manager, Z Workstations, HP Inc. “Making the most of this technology requires a collaborative relationship between customers and partners. As a leader in technology, HP is uniting powerful commercial VR solutions, including new products like the HP Z VR Backpack, with customer needs to empower VR experiences our customers can use today to reinvent the future.”

HP Z VR Backpack Docked

Well beyond gaming, the opportunities for commercial VR are virtually (sorry for the pun) limitless for businesses in product design, architecture, healthcare, first responder training, automotive, and entertainment. Technologies like VR can provide unique experiences, ranging from reinventing the buying experience in automotive showrooms to changing the way fire departments train their staff.

HP Z VR Backpack

HP’s Approach To Commercial VR 

HP’s approach to virtual reality is founded upon its history of product innovation and customer relationships. This HP technology not only provides commercial-grade reliability, but also has established partnerships for a comprehensive VR ecosystem with Intel, NVIDIA, Technicolor, and HTC Vive.

The company is investing in immersive virtual and augmented reality technologies to give customers and partners tools for commercial VR applications. This current effort exemplifies HP’s long-term commitment to VR and helping customers adopt VR.

As part of the announcement, HP says is will open thirteen immersion centers later this year in Palo Alto, Houston, Boise, Fort Collins, Stockholm, London, Paris, Barcelona, Boeblingen, Beijing, Sydney, Tokyo and Singapore. The centers have been designed so customers can have immersive experiences using HP VR technology, as well as learn how to best deploy VR devices within their businesses.

VR Mobility: The HP Z VR Backpack 

At 10.25 pounds, the HP Z VR Backpack provides the freedom to move without the need for long cords and maintain total immersion with high-octane visual performance and docking capabilities that transform it into a desktop PC platform. HP is hoping its Z VR Backpack will be a catalyst for a broader range of VR experiences across many types of enterprises and businesses including the following use case examples:

  • Businesses can use VR to deliver safe and effective simulated training in dangerous environments, in medical training or for heavy/large equipment operations. In all these environments costly mistakes can be avoided with effective VR training solutions using the HP Z VR Backpack.
  •  In architectural building development, virtual walkthroughs at scale for client reviews.
  •  In product development where product concepts are reviewed, executive agreement and sign off for new product styling could be done in virtual product showrooms.
  •  In commercial entertainment, new location-based entertainment centers featuring exhilarating virtual reality experiences can now be created with the HP Z VR Backpack.

HP Z VR Backpack Being Used For Training

With the workstation-class HP Z VR Backpack, the full potential of VR with a more manageable form factor. HP’s fully immersive and untethered VR Backpack is relatively lightweight with an ergonomic backpack design and hot swappable batteries that provide unrestricted movement within an immersive experience. It has high-end processing power (Intel Core i7) and high-fidelity graphics (NVIDIA Quadro P5200) to help minimize disruptive dropped frames so users can work in VR for relatively long periods of time. The Intel Core i7 vPro processor provides the power to process applications quickly and includes the vPro chipset. The HP Z VR Backpack is the first wearable VR PC in the market with the NVIDIA Quadro P5200 with 16GB video memory. Finally, its docking solution lets you quickly transition back and forth between high powered desktop for content design and wearable VR PC to validate creations.

HP Z VR Backpack and Evolution of VR Freedom

The HTC Vive Business Edition HMD (sold separately) is part of the HP VR portfolio, or the HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset. The HP Z VR Backpack is scheduled to be available in September starting at $3,299 USD. The datasheet is available here.

The HP VR Product Portfolio 

HP’s family of devices were designed for customers to create and consume VR content.

The HP ZBook 17 Mobile Workstation delivers ultimate power and performance and can be configured with the optimal horsepower and graphics solutions to bring VR content to life in a smooth 90 FPS VR experience.

HP Z Workstation Product Family

HP Z Desktop Workstations are designed to create visually accurate and compelling VR content. HP Z Workstations desktops feature high-end processors and graphics cards and are built to stay quiet and cool for graphic-intensive tasks.

The HP EliteDesk 800 G3 Tower, a VR-certified PC, features high performance and expandability in a redesigned smaller chassis. It is suited for companies wanting to insure their technology investment and deliver state-of-the-art capabilities.

The OMEN X Compact Desktop brings gamers an immersive experience. The factory-overclocked GPU from NVIDIA and versatile form factor means it can dock and undock quickly for gaming anywhere or can be used as a backpack for an untethered consumer VR gaming experience.

After many years of hype, false promises, underwhelming, and expensive products, HP may have cracked the code on how to succeed in the VR market. Of course, it has to still really deliver on its VR promise, but the time seems right for a commercial product line such as this, especially the HP Z VR Backpack. How much and in what industries this new commercial VR experience will be accepted and adopted is anybody’s guess, but I think HP may be on to something here. Can HP partner with some major software companies that have jumped big time on the VR bandwagon? If so, things will get really interesting, not just virtually.

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