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Published: May 12, 2017

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The explosion of virtual and augmented reality hardware and software—at a recent check, it’s a market that’s set to grow to $108 billion by 2021—is already changing the face of the video game and entertainment industries.  

But what if it could also change the way healthcare providers interact with their patients, the way educators teach their students and even the way office workers run meetings?

That’s the vision offered by MIcrosoft and HP, who this week unveiled the new HP Windows Mixed Reality Developer Edition Headset, which is available for pre-orders at Microsoft Stores, priced at $329 USD and $449 CAD.  

“Windows Mixed Reality is not just about gaming, but how we will interact with computers in the future,” said John Ludwig, gaming and VR product manager at HP. “From an experience perspective, we’re helping Microsoft put Windows Mixed Reality technology into your everyday life.”

The devkit, which offers tools for the MR/VR/AR software development community, aims to inspire them to build software and applications with immersive capabilities for a broader, more mainstream audience ahead of the planned consumer launch later this year. 

 

Bringing Windows Mixed Reality to the mainstreamMetal_lensdetail web.png

 Before VR can do things like offer virtual travel experiences, facilitate social networking or help people receive mental health services, there’s room for its hardware to evolve.

As it is right now, the headset market is fragmented. There are high-performance devices for tethering with high-end gaming rigs that deliver immersive experiences, such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. There are also lower-end devices, such as Google’s Daydream platform and Samsung’s Gear VR, that are meant to hook up to a smartphone for mobile applications.

But for the average PC user, there’s not much in between, Ludwig said.

“What’s innovative about Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality platform is that it spans both worlds, from accessory-driven, mobile applications all the way up to hardcore gaming,” he said.

Even when creating a device for software developers, HP’s designers set out to make a headset that’s both versatile and hones in on improving the user experience, according to Ludwig.

  

Metal_frontdetail web.pngGearing up for consumer launch

The developer kit precedes the eventual HP consumer hardware, which is expected to roll out later this year. It costs about half of what’s currently offered in the market for consumers and takes advantage of some key innovations that make it more appealing to a wider audience than ever before.

Today’s higher-end devices are expensive—running at about $500 for a single headset—and require pairing with a gaming or other high-performance PC with beefy graphics processing. They also require a lot of complex setup, including a dedicated space to install sensors around a room so that the player’s movements can be tracked with accuracy.

For example, to make setup easier, the device taps a pair of front-facing cameras that scan the space around the player to track movement.Metal_leftfacingcable web.png

 It also ups the game on visuals, with a resolution boost to 1,440 x 1,440 pixels per eye. That’s an improvement from the existing standard of 1,280 x 1,080 per eye in most headsets today. It also features a 2-in-1 cable that pairs HDMI 1.4 and USB 3.0 together for easier, plug-and-play setup with no additional software to install and compatibility with whatever computing device the consumer already has – even an ultrabook. 

“We want to expand the market and spur developers to get started making great content and novel applications for today’s users and potential users,” Ludwig said. “Microsoft has enabled us to move the Windows Mixed Reality headset into a much more consumer-friendly place.”

The HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset Developer Edition is available for pre-orders at Microsoft Stores for U.S. and Canada, and on HP.com.

    Blended Reality Gaming
Published: September 01, 2017

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What might entice a gamer away from the siren call of the screen and comfort of the couch? A gaming conference tops the list, with a chance to connect with other gamers, test drive the latest technology and meet esport heroes. 

This weekend, up to 80,000 gamers are set to descend on the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle for PAX West, one of the largest gaming conferences in the U.S. At the convention, gamers from around the world have the opportunity to check out the HP OMEN gaming lineup, including the latest additions to the family.

 

“The OMEN team is excited to bring the full OMEN family to the celebration of all things gaming that is PAX West,” said Spike Huang, director of product management for gaming and virtual reality at HP. “Attendees will be able to compete for Real Life Loot Boxes while playing on OMEN X, plus try out the brand-new HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset—our very first headset in partnership with Microsoft.”

OMEN_Arcade_Logo_bg_v1_sml.jpgThe OMEN Arcade inside the OMEN by HP booth invites esport athletes to try out HP OMEN X desktop PCs as they compete in a 3v3 Overwatch tournament—a celebration of the eagerly awaited Overwatch World Cup, of which OMEN by HP is an official sponsor. Guests play for cool OMEN and Overwatch swag and a chance to win Real Life Loot Boxes. The OMEN by HP booth also features a product showcase of the entire HP OMEN family, where visitors can test drive the new OMEN X Laptop. An additional 32 OMEN stations are available for free play in the main stage area.

During PAX West, Microsoft and HP will unveil a consumer version of the HP Windows Mixed Reality Developer Edition Headsetwhich was announced earlier this year.

Designed with gamers top-of-mind, this plug-and-play headset with controllers delivers a stunning and immersive mixed reality experience thanks to 1440 x 1440 resolution per eye, up to a 90Hz refresh rate (all performance specifications represent the typical specifications provided by HP's component manufacturers; actual performance may vary either higher or lower), and wireless motion controllers. Plus, an incredibly comfortable double-padded band and easy adjustments means gamers can play for hours.

Expected to be available in the U.S. on Tuesday, October 17, the headset will retail at HP.com for $449.99; this price includes the headset, two motion controllers and 4 AA batteries. It can also be purchased at Best Buy and through Microsoft, and retailer pricing may vary by location. Pricing is subject to change without notice.  

Find out more by following @OMENbyHP and the hashtags #DominatewithOMEN and #OMENCHALLENGE.

Published: June 06, 2017

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The OMEN by HP lineup of gaming notebooks, desktops and accessories is getting leveled up this summer with a slew of new devices outfitted with all of the latest specs.

But the real surprise comes with the revolutionary re-think of its design, with the growing OMEN family getting a top-to-bottom revamp.

“The gaming industry has evolved and its users have grown a sensitivity to not only to performance and design, but to the total experience of their device,” said James Cha, industrial designer, consumer notebook and desktops at HP. “They want to look at it as a trophy piece when it’s sitting on their desk.”

HP had leveraged existing computers and outfitted them with gaming-ready parts on past iterations. But it’s changed tack to focus exclusively on the needs of gamers, with inspiring design and functional features that set the newest OMEN products apart.

The reinvented OMEN lineup not only brings best-in-class performance to casual, eSports, VR and immersive gaming experiences, they feature improved thermals, distinguished industrial design and user-friendly innovations.

Redesigned OMEN by HP Desktop.Redesigned OMEN by HP Desktop.“You really have got to listen to gamers when designing products for them,” Cha said. “They are sophisticated consumers who look at how the product is built, the story behind it, and how it meets their preferences for everyday use.”

Top priority for HP was designing for OMEN devices that not only looked cool, but run cool.  

"Instead of taking an existing chassis and building around its constraints, we started with the thermals and built a chassis to house them,” said John Ludwig, gaming and VR product manager at HP. “By redesigning the layout of the machine, we can greatly increase the airflow, which has a big impact on performance.”

Take, for example the OMEN by HP Desktop, which features fighter jet-like notched corners that give it an angular, forward-leaning look. Not only does it have a different profile than other gaming towers, those angular chevron cutouts enable more air intake and improve ventilation.

“The goal was for this thing to run nearly-silent and much quieter than our competitors,” he said. “Gamers want to push the limits on their GPU and CPU without the fans running loud.”

The desktop also has a number of other thoughtful features, including a carrying handle that’s designed to let gamers tote their rigs to friends’ houses for competitions and also a cleverly angled set of hidden double doors for easy access to the hard drives.

OMEN Compact Desktop with dock. Photo credit: The VergeOMEN Compact Desktop with dock. Photo credit: The VergeThermals also figure into the recently unveiled consumer version of HP’s virtual reality backpack, the OMEN X Compact Desktop, which until now has been marketed as a backpack and only been available in a developer kit.

It puts a gaming PC on the user’s back and pairs with a VR headset, offering enthusiasts an untethered, more immersive experience by enabling the player free movement away from the snaking cables of a hefty gaming rig or TV.

HP took feedback from users and reduced the pack’s weight and redesigned the straps to be more ergonomic. The newer design maintains airflow between the device and the user’s back to prevent the wearer from getting too warm.

HP also boosted its performance with an Intel Core i7 processor and added a small form-factor docking solution for customers that wanted to use the VR pack as their main PC. The VR pack pairs with an HTC Vive headset and also the HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset, which is sold as a developer’s kit.

OMEN by HP Accelerator connects to a notebook via Thunderbolt 3.OMEN by HP Accelerator connects to a notebook via Thunderbolt 3.New to the lineup is an external GPU dock, OMEN by HP Accelerator, which zeroes in on PC gaming via Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. The accelerator is paired with a (non-gaming) notebook PC for ultimate versatility. It can also accommodate nearly all of the graphics cards on the market today and pairs with any HP laptop or other Thunderbolt 3-certified notebook.

“You get the best of both worlds: An amazingly mobile notebook for everyday tasks, and high-end graphics processing power to play games when you dock,” Ludwig said.

For the revamped OMEN devices, it was important that smallest details weren’t overlooked.

“We wanted to make sure every, single part you see is a curated experience,” Cha said. “All of the internal components, even down to the littlest sockets, are accounted for in terms of. Gamers appreciate that they are buying a machine where everything inside is built for them.” 

For a full rundown of all things OMEN by HP, visit hp.com.OMEN family shot banner.jpg

 

 

Published: April 25, 2017

HP's updated lineup of fourth-generation ZBook Mobile Workstations.HP's updated lineup of fourth-generation ZBook Mobile Workstations. While most people still think about VR as being about the hardware – like Samsung Gear VR or Oculus – it’s the content that will really matter in the long run.

That means that game designers, animators, filmmakers and graphics professionals need to be ready with powerful tools in their back pocket to meet what’s projected to be a $41 billion market for global VR content creation.

HP, the leader in the fast-growing professional workstation market, recognizes the unique needs of digital creators who rely on powerful mobile workstations to support today’s graphically intense content creation projects.  

HP's 4th-gen ZBook 17HP's 4th-gen ZBook 17At NAB Show this week during the launch of HP’s 4th generation ZBook Mobile Workstations family, HP unleashed its first Virtual Reality (VR)-ready mobile workstation: the HP ZBook 17, which aims to help designers meet rapidly growing demand for VR content.

Last year, the number of global downloads of VR games and apps from Google Play and the App Stores totaled 226 million, representing a 276 percent year-over-year explosion from 2015, according to recent Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data. In the first quarter of 2017 alone, mobile VR software downloads across both platforms totaled more than 85 million worldwide, a 205 percent year-over-year increase.  

A scene from "Henry," by Oculus Story Studio, one of first original characters entirely designed for VR viewing.A scene from "Henry," by Oculus Story Studio, one of first original characters entirely designed for VR viewing.The entertainment industry has been warming up to VR lately, too. This year’s Tribeca Film Festival was reportedly set to include VR projects tied to director Kathryn Bigelow, musicians John Legend and Pharrell Williams and producer Megan Ellison. And last year, an Oculus VR film called “Henry” managed to take home an Emmy.

For its part, HP is delivering the tools to help digital designers pursue that opportunity – now. Creators can configure the ZBook 17 with optimal horsepower, select one of two NVDIA graphics cards (the P4000 or P5000) and be assured of an ultra-smooth 90 FPS (frames per second) experience.

Beyond its VR capabilities, the ZBook 17 shares numerous important innovations found in the other 4th generation mobile workstations, including: HP ZBook 14u and 15u models; HP ZBook 15; and the top-of-the-line HP ZBook Studio.

For example, because client security continues to (or should) be a major concern for digital creators everywhere, HP re-invented its 4th generation lineup to be the industry’s most secure and manageable workstations. Each workstation offers unique security features, such as: HP Sure Start Gen3, the industry’s first-self healing PC BIOS with comprehensive encryption, strong authentication, malware protection, data protection, identity assurance and threat detection and response.

ZBook Mobile Workstations also come preloaded with HP Remote Graphics Software for remote collaboration HP Performance Advisor for optimal performance and HP Velocity for reliable and fast network performance.

 With HP taking the lead, workstations have undergone a complete change and emerged as tools that many industries use to produce mind-blowing visual content.

Best of NAB award.jpgThe entertainment industry is at the forefront of this trend, and HP workstations have played a central role in creating some of the most magical scenes in memorable Hollywood blockbusters, such as, "Hugo,” “Shrek,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” Spider-Man 3” and all “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.

This year at NAB, the HP ZBook 17 was awarded the "Best of NAB" by Videomaker magazine. 

To learn more about HP ZBook Mobile Workstations, visit HP's website. The NAB show continues through April 27th in Las Vegas. 

 

Published: January 17, 2017

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The first Gen Z-ers will earn their undergraduate degrees this spring.

Nothing like the revelation that someone born in 1995 is legally buying alcohol AND entering the workforce to make you want to relive the glory days. In fact, by 2020, this group will constitute 36 percent of the global workforce.

And 2017 brings other revelations. Every January, the World Economic Forum’s annual meet in Davos lets us ponder what is possible.

And as Gen Z comes of age, it’s incredible to imagine how their world will change. While mainstream culture still grapples with millennials, Gen Z will catalyze major societal shifts in the next 30 years; from food and healthcare, to Internet access and infrastructure.

Among the WEF’s strategic initiatives, two megatrends will particularly influence the world that a fifty-something Gen-Z-er lives in come 2050: rapid urbanization and hyper-connectivity. These two dynamics will create a barely-recognizable human experience by integrating our physical and digital experiences into one blended reality.

 

New urban environments for new expectations

The WEF’s Future of Urban Development and Services project has opened eyes to the challenges and opportunities of rapid urbanization.

By 2050, Gen Z will be fifty-plus, an age group that is the biggest demographic in the world. By that same point, the UN estimates they will be part of a global population of 9.6 billion, with two-thirds living in urban areas.

On average, they will spend three years in any one job and have a total of 17, and they will live in 15 different places. No wonder this group also tends to rent things more often than own them.

Even more vital is how these digital natives have grown up: With a mobile phone in their pocket, the internet at their fingertips every day, and five screens constantly available - smartphone, tablet, laptop, TV and desktop. And all of which increasingly have some form of artificial intelligence built in.

Cities can be reinvented for this new urban reality. Smart buildings, more immersive and ambient computing technologies, and connectivity built in to virtually everything.

But as this generation ages, they’ll tell you it’s sometimes hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Which is perhaps why the people who comprise this next generation may find themselves living in places like The Great City outside of Chengdu, China - a greenfield city built for just 80,000 people with no cars, 48 percent less energy and 58 percent less water use than traditional cities, and generating 89 percent less landfill waste and 60 percent less carbon dioxide.

 

Connecting everyone

Two-thirds of the world will live in urban areas by 2050, but 95 percent of them will be in what, today, we consider emerging markets.

 If we are to reinvent future cities, we must connect absolutely everything and everyone.

 Again, the WEF’s Hyperconnected World and Internet for All initiatives are appropriately focused. By 2020, there will be 50 billion networked devices, and by 2021 4G coverage will reach about 75 percent of the global population. The thirty years beyond that will see not only cars, thermostats and refrigerators connected to the Internet of Things, but an explosion in the Internet of ALL Things: connected sidewalks, furniture, and even disposable items like trash bags.

 Connecting humans themselves is the most exciting.

 By 2050, this on-demand generation will be part of an enormous fifty-plus age group that will need more access to high quality care. With things like hearing aids, pacemakers and wearables, humans are already somewhat ‘bionic.’ But by 2050, the warehouse worker that resembles Iron Man won’t be the stuff of comic books. And restoring a blind person’s vision will simply be science, not science fiction.

Perhaps the most impactful part of this hyper-connected future will be advances in remote care. A Gen-Z-er that takes a job with a biotech company this summer may outfit doctors with augmented reality glasses for hands free information; or create the AI-enhanced robot allowing a surgeon in New York to operate on a patient in Nigeria.

But creating all of these new experiences also requires a new way of designing and building the world around us. Current supply chains and economies aren’t equipped for this on-demand, sustainable future.

This week, our CEO is in Davos taking part on a panel that looks at the fourth industrial revolution, a massive societal shift that will transform how we create, deliver and consume things. In its wake, cities will change, demographics will be reinvented, and new experiences will take shape.

The common outcome in all these trends is our persistent trek toward blended reality: the intertwining of our digital and physical worlds; man and machine combined to make life better.

Gen Z’s future is looking bright.

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 The World Economic Forum annual meeting continues through January 20. Follow me and the HP Newsroom on Twitter for all the latest from HP at the event.