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Lowe’s strives for competitive advantage with life-size augmented reality experienceBy
Lowe’s stores in Toronto will be the first to feature the Lowe’s Holoroom, an immersive experience enabling shoppers to see how products will look in their bathroom using augmented reality and a specially designed tablet.
The Holoroom is billed by the retailer as a “home improvement simulator” that uses 3D and augmented reality technologies to create the life-size experience designed to help consumers envision how certain products would look in their homes. The Holoroom, which is the first concept to come out of the Lowe’s Innovation Labs, was previewed this week at the Exponential Finance conference in New York.
“We know that for many customers, the difficulty to visualize a completed room or share their vision with another person makes the home improvement process stressful and may even deter customers from starting a project,” said Amanda Manna, a Lowe’s spokeswoman.
“The augmented reality experience we are providing through the Holoroom will help customers not only be able to visualize their room, but to walk through the room and experience their design in a way that is intuitive and fun,” she said.
“In addition to AR, the second component of Holoroom technology that Lowe’s has developed is proprietary 3-D scanning technology that has allowed us to scan actual Lowe’s products with high fidelity – this is part of what differentiates the Holoroom experience from other AR solutions that may rely on generic representations of furniture. In addition, the customer’s ability to walk through the room, see the fine detail of wood grain or stone counter tops, look around corners of furniture and feel how they will interact in the spacing of the room also set this solution apart.”
The end result
The Holoroom was designed to address customers’ frustrations with imaging what the end result will look like when they are embarking on a room remodel. The inability to visualize the project or share their vision with others can cause some consumers to abandon such projects, according to Lowe’s.
A customer will begin by choosing their preferred products on the specially designed tablet. They then move into the Holoroom, where they can walk around with the tablet in their hands to move around the products and experience how they would look in the room.
While in the Holoroom, customers can also make changes to the room design or finalize their plan.
By downloading a free app available on iOS or Android devices, customers will be able to view a 3-D model of their room at home using a take-home printout as well as share the model with family and friends.
“If you’re a HGTV viewer and fan of the show Property Brothers, then you’ve seen augmented reality in use,” said vice president of business development at Funmobility. “I’m intrigued and not the least bit surprised to see Lowe’s investing in this technology.
“They know that helping consumers visualize the end results will only help them say yes to a major purchase,” he said.
The next step
The first Lowe’s Holoroom will be introduced to stores in Toronto this year and will be equipped with thousands of products to help customers plan a bathroom remodel. Capabilities for additional living spaces such as the kitchen and outdoor living will be added in the future.
While Lowe’s is not the first home improvement retailer to leverage augmented reality and mobile to help customers visualize remodeling projects, the Holoroom takes the concept a step further with a more immersive experience.
Last summer, IKEA launched an augmented reality mobile app enabling users to capture items from its 2014 catalog to see how they would look in their home (see story).
Lowe’s Innovation Labs is focused on developing disruptive technologies that will help the retailer lead innovation in the home improvement segment and provide a long-term competitive advantage.
The innovation center is also designed to be more nimble and flexible so it can quickly bring in new technology and new partners as it explores and indentifies new opportunities.
For example, Lowe’s partnered with SciFutures, a foresight and innovation consultancy, during the development of the Holoroom.
Lowe’s Innovation Labs will share updates on the Lowe’s Holoroom as well as future initiatives on Twitter at twitter.com/loweslabs.
Lowe’s continues to refine its mobile strategy in other ways. Last week, the retailer updates its iPhone app to enable users save their MyLowe’s card to Passbook.
“Mobile is central to the strategy,” Lowe’s Ms. Manna said. “When a customer finalizes a room design in the Holoroom, they will receive a printout with a unique marker of their design, and the specific SKUs of Lowe’s products they selected.
“Once the customer is at home, they can download a free app for iOS or Android devices and scan their marker to pull up a 3-D model of the room at home,” she said.
“They can continue to manipulate the placement of items in their room through this app, and even share the 3-D model with family and friends who have also downloaded the app.”
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
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