HP has launched the world’s first professional wearable VR workstation, the HP Z VR Backpack G1, a compact machine that doubles as a desktop, runs off batteries in VR backpack mode, leaving no trailing cables.
The custom workstation is designed to get around the limitations of traditional tethered VR setups where the user can be restricted in movement or lose the feeling of immersion if the cord gets tangled up or tugs on the head.
HP says freedom of movement can be particularly important in collaborative design review when moving around a large-scale project such as a car.
However, with wireless VR now available through add-on technologies like the TPCAST for the HTC Vive, why do you need to carry a workstation on your back?
“We see wireless HMDs as an absolutely critical part of the roadmap for VR,” explained Josh Peterson, HP’s director of worldwide product management, workstations.
“What we’re seeing though is when you have multiple users in an environment, or you have the increasing frame rate, increasing resolution of the headsets, we believe that there’s going to continue to be the need for a local compute that’s delivering that same level of graphics experience. We don’t see it as either or, we see it as an ‘and’.”
The HP Z VR comes is suspended in a lightweight 10.25 lb/4.6 kg backpack that runs off two batteries that can be swapped out for fresh ones on the fly, during a VR session. Quick charge batteries can recharge to 80 per cent within an hour, says HP.
There are no trailing cables as the workstation connects directly to the Head Mounted Display (HMD). In the case of the HTC Vive Business Edition, HP offers a custom integration with a short cable. Those not in the VR experience can also watch the experience via a Miracast connection to a wireless external display.
The HP Z VR runs quiet at less than 42db, says HP, adding that the cooling has been optimised so there is no throttling. The ergonomic harness has been designed with a durable, easy-fitting mesh that keeps the actual workstation away from the skin to stop the wearer getting hot.
The machine can also double as a desktop workstation for VR content creation, simply by taking it out of the harness and placing it in the custom dock. With a Quadro P5200 GPU (16GB), the machine will be put through all the usual ISV certifications.
The GPU is a brand-new model from Nvidia that is more powerful than the Quadro P5000, which is the fastest professional GPU you will find in most mobile workstations. The CPU is a quad core Intel Core i7-7820HQ (2.9 GHz, up to 3.9 GHz).
Other features include up to 32GB of DD4-2400 memory and up to 1TB of PCI NVMe storage.
The HP Z VR Backpack is scheduled to be available in September starting at $3,299.
HP is also opening 13 VR immersion centres around the world to allow customers to have an immersive experience using HP VR technology, receive consulting and learn how to best deploy VR devices within their business to streamline workflows.
There’ll be an architectural walkthrough experience from Theia Interactive, a showrooming experience powered by a company called VR motion, as well as number of standard demos. HP says more simulations and use cases will be added all the time.
Locations include Palo Alto, Houston, Boise, Fort Collins, Stockholm, London, Paris, Barcelona, Boeblingen, Beijing, Sydney, Tokyo and Singapore.