To date, VR backpack PCs have been aimed at gamers who just don’t want to trip over cords while they’re fending off baddies. But what about pros who want to collaborate, or soldiers who want to train on a virtual battlefield? HP thinks it has a fix. It’s launching the Z VR Backpack, a spin on the Omen backpack concept that targets the pro crowd. It’s not as ostentatious as the Omen, for a start, but the big deal is its suitability to the rigors of work. The backpack is rugged enough to meet military-grade drop, dust and water resistance standards, and it uses business-class hardware that includes a vPro-enabled quad Core i7 and Quadro P5200 graphics with a hefty 16GB of video memory.
The wearable computer has tight integration with the HTC Vive Business Edition, but HP stresses that you’re not obligated to use it — it’ll work just fine with an Oculus Rift or whatever else your company prefers. The pro parts do hike the price, though, as you’ll be spending at least $3,299 on the Z VR Backpack when it arrives in September. Not that cost is necessarily as much of an issue here — that money might be trivial compared to the cost of a design studio or a training environment.
There’s even a project in the works to showcase what’s possible. HP is partnering with a slew of companies (Autodesk, Epic Games, Fusion, HTC, Launch Forth and Technicolor) on a Mars Home Planet project that uses VR for around-the-world collaboration. Teams will use Autodesk tools to create infrastructure for a million-strong simulated Mars colony, ranging from whole buildings to pieces of clothing. The hope is that VR will give you a better sense of what it’d be like to live on Mars, and help test concepts more effectively than you would staring at a screen. You can sign up for the first phase of the project today.