As VR (virtual reality) looks to transform itself into an increasingly more mobile (aka convenient) experience HP has debuted a novel solution to the wires and tethers associated with VR today – a backpack.
At SIGGRAPH 2017, HP announced the HP Z VR Backpack, a 10-lb, wearable PC with enough horsepower for both experiencing and creating VR content. While it is easy to imagine the entertainment potential of the Z VR, HP has made it clear that it wants its new wearable PC to be catalyst for bringing more robust VR experiences to business and enterprise first and foremost. Safer simulation and training, virtual walkthroughs for architectural design, and better collaboration in virtual environments for product designers, are just a few of the use cases cited by HP.
At its core the Z VR Backpack is a Windows 10 PC with an Intel Core i7 processor, 32 GB of SDRAM, a Nvidia Quadro P5200 GPU, and up to 1 TB of internal storage. It measures in at 13.11 x 9.29 x 2.39 inches and weighs 10.25 lbs according to specs released by HP. The backpack is powered by a 55Whr lithium-ion battery and features two, external portable 74 Whr hot-swappable batteries. The Z VR can also be docked and serve as a desktop PC.
If you've had a chance to try VR for product design you know that the cords and wires can make for a very cumbersome (and potentially unsafe) work experience, particularly with multiple users operating in the same physical space. Without some sort of handy rig overhead to manage the wires and someone to spot you and hold the cords connecting your headset and controllers to the workstation, it only takes a few turns before you end up wrapped in cable clutter.
Placing VR into a backpack form factor goes a long way in addressing the cable clutter issues, but in hands-on demonstrations at SIGGRAPH it feels like comfort is still a big issue. At 10 lbs the backpack itself is not terribly heavy, but it is just heavy enough to be noticeable and one wonders how it will play out with extended use – particularly if adapted to more physically demanding tasks like entertainment (live-action shooting games) or design sessions that require prolonged standing.
The other issue, which to be fair is completely outside of HP's control, is the weight of the headset. The latest version of the HTC Vive weighs in at just over a pound. That may not sound significant but it becomes very noticeable when it's attached to your moving head (also consider a pair of practicing glasses only weighs about 30-40 grams). Anyone that has ever worked out will tell you that adding a total of about 11 lbs to your bodyweight can have a significant impact.
But headsets are only promising to get lighter. Kopin, a manufacturer of lightweight displays, recently unveiled a reference design, codenamed Elf VR, that will used patented microdisplay panels to create a VR headset the company estimates will be about 50% lighter than headsets currently available.
The move to untethered VR with internal tracking must also be considered. Oculus and HTC have promised the next generation of their headsets will be wireless and companies including Microsoft and Qualcomm are working with partners to deliver untethered headsets as well. A lightweight, wireless headset that delivers the same fidelity as a tethered headset could make the placement of a workstation entirely irrelevant.
Depending on how long it takes for wireless VR products to roll out wide, HP's backpack could catch on with customers too impatient for untethered solutions. We'll have to wait and see whether the backpack PC becomes a standard or a footnote, but for now it may offer a good intermediary step toward fully free VR.
What do you think of HP's VR Backpack solution? Let us know in the comments.
Chris Wiltz is the Managing Editor of Design News.
Berlin (dpa) — Mercedes’ best-selling model for some years has been the GLC, a crossover SUV that competes against cars like the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3.
Now the latest version is out and comes with a few changes while keeping the features that have made the car popular.
Although Mercedes, like most manufacturers, is gearing up for an electric future, the German manufacturer knows that the combustion engine will still be needed for a few more years.
The GLC comes with diesel and petrol power units as well as plug-in hybrids but there’s no all-electric version.
A little more car for a lot more money
In its home market, the new GLC costs at least €57,632 ($56,136), a good 10% more than before. For all that money, there is at least a bit more car. The GLC's body has been smoothed out in the wind tunnel and is now a bit chunkier.
With an almost two centimetre longer wheelbase and six centimetres more length, it also offers more space. The backseat passengers can enjoy a little extra legroom, and the trunk grows by 10% to 600 litres.
In addition, there is more finesse in the choice of materials, smarter assistants, and, above all, a new operating concept as already seen in the more accurate Mercedes models.
Like the technically closely related C-Class, the GLC now uses the MBUx multimedia system and has one of the most useful voice assistants on the car market.
Mercedes has also made significant improvements to the handling. The GLC with optional all-round air suspension now makes for an even more relaxing ride. The necessary peace and quiet is provided by improved sound insulation.
Rear-axle steering also makes the car noticeably easier to handle and manoeuvre around corners.
All in all, the GLC looks like a contemporary SUV that could be a leader in its segment — if the engine selection wasn't a bit old-fashioned.
Only an integrated starter generator with 48-volt technology helps the internal combustion engines achieve some economy.
There is a choice of a 2.0-litre petrol engine with 150 kW/204 hp or 190 kW/258 hp and a diesel engine, also 2.0 litres, available with 143 KW/197 hp or 195 kW/265 hp. The GLC also comes with a V6 engine that has more than 221 kW/300 hp.
However, Mercedes has not completely ignored the e-mobility trend. The range includes three plug-in hybrids, all of which have been significantly improved.
The electric motor has significantly more power at 100 kW, the batteries have more capacity at 32 kWh, and the car can also be charged more quickly.
The hybrid outputs range from 230 kW/313 hp to 280 kW/381 hp. Those driving in electric mode only can travel up to 100 kilometres at a maximum of 140 km/h, a distance that should usually be enough for everyday driving.
If both the internal combustion engine and electric motor are used the GLC 300 de can manage over 1,000 kilometres at a stretch.
More efficient, smarter and more comfortable and, with the plug-in hybrids, a big step further along the road to electrification. This makes the GLC not a pioneer, but a transitional solution.
After all, even those who want to remain flexible when refuelling do not have to do without the advantages of a Mercedes for the time being.
The Mercedes GLC is now also equipped with the MBUx multimedia system. However, customers will have to do without the large hyperscreen of the EQS. Mercedes-Benz Group/dpa© DPA
When Nissan finally redesigned its Z sports car this year, the bar for the 370Z's replacement had lowered to mere microns off the floor. The old Z was available for sale continuously since 2009, receiving only minor upgrades along the way. We're not going to say "any new-ish car with four wheels and the shape of a sports car" would have sufficed, but the 2023 Z's job was relatively straightforward. Thankfully, Nissan exceeded most expectations with the new Z, delivering a sport coupe so stylish, so powerful, and so affordable as to almost make you forget the underlying platform is … effectively still the same as the ancient 370Z's.
You probably won't detect the connection to yesterday's 370Z unless you peek at the new Z's curb weight and notice the car's unusually tall cowl. Both are the direct result of Nissan recycling the 370Z's sedan-based platform; its bones were shared with the Infiniti G37, a larger vehicle that, when scaled to the Z's smaller footprint, betrayed its more upright structure. They can even trace their roots back to the two-decades-old 350Z. Reinforcing this architecture to its present, admirably stiff state required adding bracing and, thus, mass. Our Performance trim, stick-shift 2023 Nissan Z weighs 3,519 pounds, about 100 pounds heavier than a 2017 370Z we tested years ago.
Some of that extra cheddar comes from the new-to-Z, if not exactly all-new, VR30DDTT twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 engine. Borrowed from the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 models, this engine spits out a Toyota Supra-beating 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. Those figures are well beyond the 370Z's 332 hp and 270 lb-ft, generated by a tractor-like 3.7-liter naturally aspirated V-6, and they eclipse the last-generation 370Z NISMO variant's 350 hp and 276 lb-ft. However, contending with quite a bit more Z in the metal, the twin-turbo V-6's impact on the 2023 Z's performance is muted. We managed to scoot the new model to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, a few tenths of a second quicker than non-NISMO previous-generation 370Zs and on par with the 350-horse NISMO variants. Toyota's lighter, until-now-automatic-transmission-only Supra is about a second quicker to 60 mph.
In practice, the VR30DDTT engine pulls strongly and with a refinement the old VQ engine could only dream of. The engine now spins without vibration and puts out pleasing guttural noises; by contrast, the previous Z's VQ engine behaved, sounded like, and felt like a truck engine. We noticed the six-speed manual's shift lever still bucks around when getting onto or quickly off the throttle, but it's the only notable physical manifestation of the engine's work. As before, there is no "sport" mode for the Z, only a satisfying physical button to the left of the steering wheel for defeating traction and stability control, and another alongside the shifter for the rev-matching S-Mode function. The manual transmission (a nine-speed auto is optional at no cost) is generally satisfying to use with rev-match on or off, but the throws are longer than in a GR Supra manual, and the decently weighted, springy clutch pedal has a long stroke.
Nissan is adamant we should not view the Z as a "track car," which on the surface seems strange, because the Z is a 400-hp, rear-wheel-drive sports car that, as tested here, comes with a Performance trim option. That designation includes a new clutch-type locking rear differential, bigger Akebono front brakes, and lightweight 19-inch Rays wheels. Why its maker would deem a car set up this way as unwelcome on a track, even for an amateur track day, would normally be a head-scratcher. But it makes sense in the way the Z drives; it's soft, comfortable, even. The body leans in corners, dives when you hit the brakes, and goes on-plane when you goose the twin-turbo V-6.
We piloted the Z around a short, winding circuit at our testing venue, and found it entertaining for precisely, we think, the reasons Nissan feels it shouldn't have been there. The weightier forced-induction V-6 pushes the Z's weight distribution forward relative to the 370Z, such that 57 percent of its mass presses through the front tires. Along with the suspension's general compliance, this makes for an oversteery experience as you near and pass through the handling limits. But thanks to the body lean, even novices can figure out how much grip remains in reserve. On our skidpad, the Z hung on for a 0.93-g average, matching the previous-gen NISMO variant. Toyota's GR Supra has similar roll compliance, if not quite as much, and has higher limits while being snappier at the limit, making it less friendly for would-be drifters.
Of course, more than mere fun goes into a car's track-worthiness, and there's no getting around the Z's braking power. While it's fine on, say, a fast road, we noticed the binders fading after a few laps of our course. This aspect alone would make us hesitate to track the Z on a regular basis if we owned it, unless we addressed the issues via aftermarket components. Nevertheless, we recorded a 110-foot best stop from 60 mph, right in line with the lighter Supra.
Given the 2023 Nissan Z's lack of hardcore abilities or intent, most customers likely will be served just fine by the base model that costs $10,000 less than this Performance version. You get the same engine and the same general goodness, minus a few performance parts the Z doesn't put to particularly good use, anyhow—well, aside from that locking differential, which comes in handy when sliding the car around.
More to the point: Even in Performance trim, the Z lives in an interesting corner of the market; it costs a few thousand bucks less than an equivalent six-cylinder Toyota GR Supra—the base Z even undercuts the entry-level four-cylinder Supra—and may even be cross-shopped against V-8-powered Mustangs and Camaros, four-cylinder BMW 2 series Coupes, and maybe even BMW's two-seat Z4 roadster (the Supra's German cousin). On the other hand, it's priced in premium hot hatch territory, making it a less practical but similar-performing alternative to enthusiast models such as VW's Golf R, Honda's Civic Type R, and the new Toyota GR Corolla.
The fact this car puts up numbers akin to the old 370Z's tier-above NISMO variant shows this redesign brought improvement, even if the rest of the non-numbers-focused experience relaxes. And therein lies the rub: We think a softer-edged, more road-focused sports car is novel and worthy of praise in today's age of ever-stiffening suspensions and Nürburgring development laps. It's too bad, however, that behind its appealing tuning, the Z feels old in other ways that don't show up in the objective test results.
There's geriatric Nissan switchgear from previous generations interspersed among the new displays; the interior trim went abuzz over rougher roads, despite the soft ride; and there's still that old-timey driveshaft windup that clunks its head up when shifting amongst lower gears at city speeds. A truly all-new car could have addressed these shortcomings, all of which carryover from the 370Z. Instead, Nissan gives enthusiasts more power and slightly better performance, more style, and a fresh touchscreen. There's somehow still some charm in that.
|2023 Nissan Z Specifications|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$53,610|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door hatchback|
|ENGINE||3.0L Twin-turbo direct-injected DOHC 24-valve 60-degree V-6|
|POWER (SAE NET)||400 hp @ 6,400 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||350 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,519 lb (57/43%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||172.4 x 72.6 x 51.8 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.9 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||13.5 sec @ 105.3 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||110 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.93 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.3 sec @ 0.74 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||18/24/20 mpg|
|EPA RANGE, COMB||328 miles (est)|
Rear legroom has steadily been disappearing since the glory days of the 1940s and 1950s, when the likes of Wilt Chamberlain could sit happily in the back of a Buick Roadmaster. Many of today’s coupes sacrifice passenger comfort on the altar of a sexy roofline. Indeed, some cars—the Jaguar E-Type 2+2 comes to mind—do look much worse in their stretched versions.
Now Jeep has stretched the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer for 2023 L Versions that gain 12 inches in length and seven inches in wheelbase (which now totals 130). The gain is almost entirely in the rear seating and load space, enabling the kids and adults to pack more gear and sit in the second and third row comfortably. Jeep brought journalists to Bozeman, Montana, to exercise the cars on ranch roads and on the 18,000 acres of Crazy Mountain Ranch—where an authentic Old West town, Deadrock, has been assembled.
In the marketplace, the Wagoneer L is up against the Chevy Suburban and Ford Expedition, and the Grand Wagoneer L the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. All of them are going all-in on luxurious interiors, big engines, and lots of load space.
Jim Morrison, senior vice president and head of the Jeep brand in North America, said that sales overall are up 45 percent since the beginning of the year. The Wrangler 4xe is now the best-selling plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and for the first half of 2022, Jeep is number two (after General Motors) in the Total Large Utility Vehicle segment, chasing the Tahoe and Yukon.
At the Detroit Auto Show, Jeep unveiled a 30th anniversary edition of the Grand Cherokee 4xe (as a $4700 package) and a Willys version of the Wrangler 4xe, further expanding the PHEV offerings. The company will have four all-electric models by 2025.
“These new L Wagoneers will have more space for people and their stuff,” Morrison said, “as well as improved efficiency and extra range. When the turbos kick in, it just makes you smile.” There is now 44.2 cubic feet behind the third row, 88.8 behind the second row, and 130.9 behind the first row, enabling the movement of a four-foot-by-eight-foot sheet of plywood.
The Wagoneer L comes with a 420-hp (and 468 lb-ft of torque) version of the new three-liter direct-injection straight-six Hurricane engine, and the Grand Wagoneer with a 510-hp (500 lb-ft) upgrade of it. An eight-speed Torqueflite automatic is married to those power plants. Alan Falkowski, chief engineer for the Hurricane engine, declined to say what other vehicles might share the small bore, long stroke power plant, but it seems a natural for some Stellantis truck models.
Up to 24 mpg highway fuel economy is achievable, with a 2 mpg combined improvement over the Wagoneer V8s. The 420 has “recommended” premium fuel, and for the 510 it’s required, but company engineers said that regular won’t do any damage—it just won’t deliver peak performance.
The Wagoneer, in both forms, was almost preternaturally quiet on the highway. Falkowski said he likes the inline-six arrangement because it’s inherently smooth, and that was apparent. The Montana route included lots of curvy roads. To say the Wagoneer handled like a sports car would be inaccurate—you’re always conscious of that bulk when attempting quick maneuvers. The L models’ curb weight is between 6069 and 6704 pounds.
The Wagoneer Ls can tow up to 10,000 pounds. They were fine on dirt roads and an off-road course, but serious trail hounds will probably choose different models. The Quadra-Lift air suspension offers five heights, including two for off-road with up to 10 inches of lift. The cars can also be lowered 1.6 inches for easier entry, though the running board that shoots out when the doors are opened is also helpful.
The cabin feels airy and visibility is good all around, though the HVAC system didn’t always provide cooling quickly. Jeep’s navigation system is very good, but it didn’t play all that well with Apple CarPlay, which apparently prefers that you use Google Maps.
A Carbide package on both L models is mostly an appearance upgrade, though it does include a tri-pane panoramic sunroof that extends to the third row. Seating can accommodate up to eight passengers, though with the captain’s chairs in the second row there’s a plenty of storage between the seats. Legroom and headroom in both the second and third row are very good, as is access to that USB-enabled third row via a Tip ‘n Slide function on the second row. The third row also reclines.
The Grand Wagoneer L is a big step up from the Wagoneer L in terms of opulence, with American walnut wood and optional Palermo leather to rival the European competition. Occupants sit on 24-way seats with heating, cooling, and massage functions. Rear-seat passengers can control their own HVAC, and have individual screens with access to Amazon Fire programming.
The Wagoneer Ls really score with their available McIntosh infotainment, since it sounds great and mimics the brand’s iconic black-with-chrome-knob styling. The dancing VU meters don’t have any genuine function, but they’re faithful to McIntosh’s highly prized home amplifiers.
The new models, bearing American flag badges, will be built at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Michigan. Jeep has invested $4.5 billion in five Michigan plants, which it said would create 6500 new jobs. The L models, so far, will be sold only in North America and the Middle East. The Wagoneer L, in rear-drive form, starts at $64,495 and goes up from there—the test car, with several packages, was $92,645; the Grand Wagoneer L, available only with four-wheel drive, ranges from $93,495 to $113,990
Share your thoughts on the stretched Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer in the comments below.Looking to purchase a car? Find your match on the MSN Autos Marketplace
ProCharger has just launched a comprehensive supercharger package for the C8 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, increasing power to in excess of 725 hp.
ProCharger has developed two different kits for the sports car. The first is dubbed the HO System and rocks 5 psi of boost, making a total of 665 hp. Meanwhile, the newly-announced Stage II system ups this to 7.5 psi of boost, resulting in more than 725 hp when running premium pump gas.
Read Also: Supercharged Callaway Corvette C8 Makes A Mighty Tempting Z06 Alternative
The supercharger, an air-to-water intercooler, CNC billet bracket system, ProCharger head unit, and a fully calibrated and tuned ECU are included as part of the system. ProCharger has also tweaked the functionality of the cruise control button on the steering wheel to now easily activate and deactivate the ‘Vette’s cylinder deactivation system that can shut off four of the cylinders when they’re not needed.
A number of optional upgrades are also available for the C8 Corvette. These include a Helical gearset to reduce noise, an aluminum intake manifold, various supercharger upgrades, and carbon fiber upgrades for the manifold cover and trunk cover.
As you may expect, the kits aren’t exactly cheap but represent good value when you consider how much extra power they deliver. The cheaper of the two systems, the HO setup, starts at $17,498 while the Stage II system will set back shoppers $18,498.
Two lesser versions of the HO and Stage II systems are also available. The first of these is dubbed the HO Intercooled Tuner Kit Plus and is the same as the HO kit but lacks a calibrated ECU and only allows adjustments to be made to the engine timing. Then there is the Stage II Intercooled Tuner Kit that has an intake manifold with included port injector bungs and does not include tuning of the fuel system or engine timing.
HP has put forward a small robot it says can dramatically speed up construction work, by autonomously printing guidelines straight from the blueprints onto the floor. Rugged, roadworthy and extremely accurate, Siteprint is a super-quick layout tool.
The robot replaces the time-consuming manual process of site layout, using a variety of different inks to place precise lines, exact curves and faithful reproductions of complex shapes on all kinds of floors, from porous surfaces like concrete and plywood to terrazzo, vinyl or epoxy.
It doesn't require a perfectly smooth or clean floor – indeed, it can handle a certain degree of surface irregularity and obstacles up to 2 cm (0.8 in) high. It runs built-in obstacle and cliff drop sensors for fully autonomous operation, and will work around barriers even if they're not in the plans.
As well as layout lines, it's capable of printing more or less whatever else you need on the floor too, including text notes. Operators set it up using cloud-based tools for job preparation, fleet management and tracking, and can run it on site with a touch-screen tablet and a tripod-mounted "totalstation."
“The existing manual layout process can be slow and labor intensive,” said Albert Zulps, Director of Emerging Technology at Skanska - a global construction and development company currently using the SitePrint system for two of its US projects. "Despite being done by specialists, there is always the risk of human error, which can result in costly reworks. Layout experts are a scarce resource who add a lot of value in terms of planning and strategy, but often end up dedicating most of their time to manual execution. HP SitePrint lets us do more with less, helping reduce schedules thanks to a much faster layout process, and allowing senior operators to focus on other critical activities like quality control.”
While HP hasn't announced pricing, we assume the printer robot itself will be surprisingly cheap, but the ink's gonna be a killer. Yuk yuk.
Check out Siteprint in the video below.
HP SitePrint Skanska testimonial | HP