Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) is channeling the spirit of Star Trek's holodeck for the purposes of home remodeling with its augmented reality Holoroom, the first concept to come out of Lowe's new Innovation Labs.
The ambitious project was the result of a partnership between Lowe's and SciFutures, a foresight and innovation consultancy that draws inspiration from science fiction for new technology initiatives. This one aims to give shoppers a clearer idea of what their bathroom might look like with those new fixtures they're researching.
"We know that for many homeowners, the struggle to visualize a completed home improvement project or to share that vision with others can stop a project in its tracks," said Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe's Innovation Labs. "The Holoroom is our solution, enabling consumers to visualize their project and share that vision with family and friends."
If you have visions of customers walking through a hologram of their favorite new room, though, tap the brakes a little. Lowe's Holoroom uses augmented reality, not virtual reality. Shoppers can set up the layout of the room they want to remodel and insert Lowe's products using a tablet. Once inside the Holoroom, they can use the tablet as a sort of window, moving it around to see the room from whatever angle they choose.
The process is similar to Ikea's experiments with augmented reality in its print catalog, just taken to a larger scale.
SciFutures did look into holographic alternatives that would have been more in line with the Holoroom name, but those solutions presented their own challenges.
"We investigated a number of simulator solutions, we felt that those rooms didn't design the level of detail that would be appropriate for a retail environment," SciFutures CEO Ari Popper told Singularity Hub. "They're designed really for one person to be in the environment, and there's some motion sickness involved."
For now, the Holoroom will launch only in Toronto stores later this year, and will be limited to simulating bathroom remodels. Lowe's will continue to add product categories and rooms over the next 12 to 18 months. For more on Lowe's Innovation Labs and how the Holoroom works, see the video below.
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