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Brief Published: 3 Jul 2014

Lowe’s AR Simulator


American home-improvement retailer Lowe’s has unveiled an in-store augmented reality (AR) simulator for home-improvement projects.

Consumers can use a custom-adapted tablet, loaded with a special AR app, to create a design for a bathroom. The experience starts with a generic, fixed-size bathroom which users alter by dragging and dropping in products from Lowe’s catalogue. They can also change colours, using a palette from Lowe’s paint range.

Next, consumers walk into an empty 400 sq ft room dubbed the Holoroom, carrying the tablet. The app is aware of the orientation of the room thanks to a series of markers placed on the walls (picked up via the tablet’s camera), and subsequently displays the corresponding view of a 3D model of the customers’ design on-screen. Users can explore their design in detail and continue to modify it as they walk around the space with the tablet.

The project originally deployed Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset devised as an immersive gaming tool (for more on this, see Future Innovations in our Anywhere Retailing Industry Trend). However, it was exchanged for a tablet to facilitate group use; a major application of this tool is helping couples and families agree on home-renovation decisions.

The Holoroom will be introduced in two stores in Toronto, Canada by the end of 2014, and plans are already afoot to expand the initiative to digital renovations of all types of rooms in the home. The brand has also registered an intention to improve the AR capabilities of the app for consumers’ home use.

The Holoroom is the result of a collaboration with Californian innovation consultancy SciFutures, which helps brands combine seemingly sci-fi narratives with existing consumer insights to develop future possibilities. It’s also the first initiative from Lowe’s Innovation Labs – a new in-house programme conceived to work with external, future-scoping groups to improve the customer experience.

For more on home improvements using virtual technologies, see Virtual Decorating: Interior Design in the Next Dimension, Teen Retail: PBTeen Design Lab, California, Try-Before-You-Buy App and Ikea Launches AR Catalogue & App.

For more on immersive retail and AR in general, see Immersive Brand Spaces, Augmented Reality Retailing, Goldrun & AR Retailing, Play Hard, Stay Memorable (Power of Play Industry Trend) and Virtual Stores & Media Facades.