Virtual reality on Chromebooks? HP thinks it's possible.
HP wants to add "blended reality" features -- including VR and 3D printing -- to laptops and desktops running the Chrome OS and operating systems other than Windows, company executives said this week.
Right now the laptops are aimed at users who do most of their computing on the Web, though some offline applications are available.
HP is approaching the market for VR in a way that is different from companies like Oculus and Samsung, which provide headsets to view 3D content. On its part, HP wants to provide the tools that can be used to create 3D content.
Beyond VR, a big part of HP's "blended reality" strategy is 3D printing. HP plans to release a 3D printer this year, and the company has said it wants to make it easier for PC and mobile-device users to create and print 3D objects.
These features will be delivered to Chrome PCs through Web technologies, said Gus Schmedlen, vice president of education at HP.
More details on the plan will be shared in the future, Schmedlen said, so exactly how HP will build a Chromebook capable of handling Web-based VR remains to be seen.
HP already offers hardware built around its interactive computing strategy. Sprout PCs have projectors and 3D cameras that can scan, create and manipulate 3D images and objects.The 23.6-inch Zvr monitor allows users to modify objects "in thin air" with a stylus-like pointer and 3D glasses.
HP's VR and 3D printing capabilities are built around Windows, which supports the requisite hardware and drivers. Most Chrome PCs today have basic hardware for Web apps and content, and that may not be enough to support high-end 3D modelling.
VR is possible through high-end smartphones and Google Cardboard, but desktops with separate graphics cards are needed for high-end devices like Oculus Rift. Chrome PCs don't have discrete GPUs yet.
It's possible that HP could create a Web version of its Workspace software, which allows for the scanning or manipulation of images and video.