August 21, 2017

HP and NVIDIA are making a VR backpack for professionals


HP partnered with NVIDIA to design a new Virtual Reality backpack for professionals: the HP Z VR Backpack. Although HP’s recent VR efforts have focused on gaming platforms, such as the Omen X Compact Desktop announced earlier this year, the company shows they also know the importance of VR in other industries.

The HP Z VR Backpack is suitable for entertainment purposes, but also designed to reduce conception to production cycle times and improve training procedures. It allows professionals to work with complex designs in life-like immersive VR, or with 4K desktop displays, wherever they may be. HP says “opportunities for commercial VR are limitless for businesses in product design, architecture, healthcare, first responder training, automotive and entertainment.”

For example, businesses can use VR to deliver safe and effective simulated training in dangerous environments, such as in medical training or for heavy/large equipment operations. In architectural building development, virtual walkthroughs at scale for client reviews can help quickly close the deal. All these environments help to avoid costly mistakes with effective VR training solutions using the HP Z VR Backpack.

“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.”

What’s in the box

The package includes a powerful VR PC, a “lightweight” (10.25 lb/4.6 kg) backpack, and a docking station.

Although configured to work with the HTC Vive Business Edition, the VR PC is compatible with other VR HMDs, such as Oculus Rift, or the HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset. As with the company’s gaming VR backpack, the Z VR features the latest 7th generation CPU design from Intel and supports up to 32 GB RAM.

However, what really makes the Z VR Backpack special is the use of NVIDIA’s latest Quadro P5200 graphics card with 16 GB of memory. “With the NVIDIA Quadro P5200 powering the HP ZVR Backpack, the wearable VR workstation is realized,” said Josh Peterson, vice president of product management for workstations at HP. “Now our customers can smoothly interact with high-end workloads and complex simulations with optimal performance and the ultimate user experience.”

The backpack features a dual-battery system so you can swap batteries on the go, while the docking station allows you to transition back and forth between high powered desktop for content design and wearable VR PC to validate your creations.

Try before you buy

HP will open 13 VR “immersion centers” so customers can test the system, receive consulting and learn how to best deploy VR devices within their business to streamline workflows. These “immersion centers” will open in Palo Alto, Houston, Boise, Fort Collins, Stockholm, London, Paris, Barcelona, Boeblingen, Beijing, Sydney, Tokyo, and Singapore.

With a starting price of $3,299, HP aims to release the HP Z VR Backpack and open its “immersion centers” in September 2017.

Take it to Mars

Along with Z VR Backpack’s announcement, HP also announced a new project called “HP Mars Home Planet”.

The HP Mars Home Planet is a VR project HP wants to develop together with NVIDIA, Autodesk, Fusion, Launch Forth, Technicolor, Unreal Engine, and VIVE. The goal of the project is to engage creative thinkers to solve some of the challenges of urbanization on the red planet given its climate and atmospheric challenges, and show, through VR, a glimpse of what life on Mars could be like.

“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, vice president of product management for workstations, 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.”

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