HP Got Game?

Hewlett-Packard’s purchase last year of high-end gaming PC maker VoodooPC is beginning to bear fruit as the computing and printing giant is now offering previews of advanced game technologies it might soon bring to market.

These are likely to include groundbreaking devices and applications such as a handheld, tablet PC-type game unit that will use GPS and rendering technology to meld virtual images with reality. With such a device, “people could, for example, play a game throughout a city using wireless handheld devices,” said HP.

Another new technology the company recently showcased uses a curved, seamless display “that fills a gamer’s field of view for an incredibly immersive visual experience” and a “super projector” that can display high resolution, bright and deeply contrasted games on a big screen in a lit room.

Gaming Takes Power

“Gaming applications demand massive amounts of raw computing power and scalability to achieve high levels of interactivity,” noted HP. The company said it is focusing on providing technology that enhances not only PC, online and mobile gaming but also the back-end infrastructures and workstations for gaming companies, content developers and gaming service providers.

HP said it will use VoodooPC, and its research and development labs “to commercialize new PC, display and networking technologies.”

HP’s belief that significant profits lie in the vast and growing community of gamers is supported by a Forrester Research report released about the time HP acquired VoodooPC.

The report stated that PC gaming is the dominant platform for video game users, and it predicted the PC gaming market will grow stronger. Thirty-nine percent of all households use PCs for playing video games, Forrester said.

Just a Taste

HP has the resources and, importantly, the desire to take computer gaming to amazing new levels, Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld. HP’s recent announcements just scratch the surface, he said.

“HP showcased that the VoodooPC guys have been going through HP Labs and pillaging anything they thought interesting,” stated Enderle. “They didn’t really showcase any of the advanced systems they will be releasing later in the year. They didn’t want give their competitors a heads-up. We’re going to see those things about same time we’ll be able to buy them in the second half of the year.”

Nevertheless, the few ideas and devices HP was willing to reveal have the ability to “transform gaming,” Enderle said.

“I am absolutely blown away with the technology that we have available to us within HP,” VoodooPC founder Rahul Sood, now HP’s chief technology officer for global gaming, wrote in his blog. “We could literally wallpaper the place with all of the quality registered patents in our portfolio.”

Untapped Resources

The key to it all is having personnel able to envision the gaming potential of business and military technological advances, Enderle said. For example, “the stuff they didn’t talk about are advances made in terms of cooling and performance typically applied to large computing shops, large Oracle databases,” he added. “They’re now saying, ‘What if we took that stuff and applied it to gaming?’ By doing that they’re going to push the envelope much farther than ever … They, in theory, could move gaming ahead five to ten years.”

Dell also acquired a high-end gaming-PC shop, Alienware, but Dell doesn’t have the research lab capabilities of HP, Enderle noted. “Dell originally built the XPS gaming company within the Dell company, then bought a top gaming company,” he said. “HP took a look at Voodoo and said, ‘I think we can do one better.’ They have the labs and resources they can leverage.”

While Dell has taken a linear path, “HP is re-thinking the entire problem,” Enderle concluded.

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