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HP Announces Virtual Reality Products, Mars Project

4 Aug, 2017 By: Stephanie Prange

HP has announced a new virtual reality portfolio, including a wearable VR PC — the  HP Z VR Backpack — as well as details about a collaborative VR Mars project.

The VR Backpack offers the freedom to move and maintain total immersion, according to an HP press release. The device, which is light with an ergonomic design and swappable batteries to provide unrestricted freedom, can be utilized by location-based entertainment centers featuring virtual reality experiences, according to the press release. The VR Backpack is scheduled to be available in September starting at $3,299.

“Virtual reality is changing the way people learn, communicate and create,” said Xavier Garcia, VP and GM of Z Workstations for 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 technology brings together the complete VR ecosystem with Intel, NVIDIA, Technicolor, HTC Vive and others, according to the release. Thirteen immersion centers will open later this year in Palo Alto, Houston, Boise, Fort Collins, Stockholm, London, Paris, Barcelona, Boeblingen, Beijing, Sydney, Tokyo and Singapore, and have been designed so customers can have an immersive experience using HP VR technology and receive consulting and learn how to best deploy VR devices within their business to streamline workflows.

Other commercial HP VR devices include the HP ZBook 17 Mobile Workstation, HP Z Desktop Workstations, the HP EliteDesk 800 G3 Tower, and the OMEN X Compact Desktop.

HP also announced plans for the HP Mars Home Planet project, in partnership with NVIDIA, Technicolor, Fusion, Autodesk, Unreal, Launch Forth and Vive. The global project uses virtual reality to simulate what a human population of 1 million could look like on Mars. From buildings, vehicles, farms and clothing, this co-creation project of professional creatives from around the world explores how life could be sustained on the red planet given its climate and atmospheric challenges.

The HP Mars Home Planet project advances work initially done for Mars 2030, a virtual reality experience created by Fusion with NASA. With the new project, HP and its partners are uniting engineers, architects, designers, artists and students to imagine, design and experience humanity’s future on Mars through VR.

“In 2016, we conquered the International Space Station with our HP ZBook Workstations, powered by NVIDIA Quadro graphics, and now we have our sights set on Mars,” said Josh Peterson, VP of product management for workstations at HP Inc. “Through HP and partner technology, we are unleashing engineers, architects, designers and students to help anticipate and solve the real world problems we’ll face to inhabit Mars one day.”

The project looks beyond 2030, to a time in the future where there are families and communities living on Mars. The goal of the project is to engage creative thinkers to solve some of the challenges of urbanization on the red planet. Ultimately, through the VR experience, people here on earth will be able to experience what life on Mars might be like.

The three phases of the year-long program start with the Home Planet’s Mars Urbanization Challenge, where participants will focus on transportation and infrastructure concepts for a specific location. Following the concepting phase, 3D modeling and rendering will be completed — resulting in a virtual reality experience of life on Mars. Participants of the project will use Autodesk software to make anything — from 3D models of Martian buildings and cities to vehicles and infrastructure. With creative and technical leadership from Technicolor, creators will then use Unreal Engine to create a virtual reality simulation.

HP Mars Home Planet is produced and managed by Launch Forth, a product development community made up of designers, engineers and solvers, working together to develop solutions to design and engineering challenges big and small, enabling participants to team up and collaborate to solve challenges, according to an HP release.

The advisory board of HP Mars Home Planet includes Marcie Jastrow, SVP of Immersive Media and head of the Technicolor Experience Center; Ted Gagliano, president of post production for Twentieth Century Fox; Ted Schilowitz, futurist at Paramount Pictures; Jen Dennis, head of VR at RSA Films; and Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the College of Sciences at the University of Arizona.

Those wishing to join the HP Mars Home Planet mission and begin the first phase of the Mars Urbanization Challenge can visit hp.com/go/mars to get started.

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