The Sprout, HP's innovative new PC, towered above my desk. An array of cameras and a projector (collectively called the Illuminator) loomed over its 23-inch touch display.

I put a toy on the Touch Mat, a work surface extending from the front of the Sprout like a huge mousepad. Lights flashed from the Illuminator.

Shortly thereafter, a vivid image of the toy appeared on the Touch Mat. Using my fingers, I slid it onto an existing image. I had just made a new picture, without ever touching a keyboard or a mouse.

With the Sprout, HP is inaugurating a new approach to computing called "blended reality." In plainer terms, it's a PC designed to work with imaging and touch technologies, paired with software that makes tasks more tactile and interactive. You can see how artists – and definitely kids – would enjoy working with their hands like this, even if the end results are still digital. Underneath it all lies a full-fledged computer that can run all the traditional programs with a keyboard and mouse.

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