Lowe's recently introduced The Lowe's Holoroom, a simulator that applies 3-D and augmented reality technologies to provide homeowners "an intuitive, immersive experience in the room of their dreams."
In the 20-foot by 20-foot room, customers simulate renovation projects. Floors and paint colors can be swapped out as well as furniture or cabinets with a swipe on an iPad. Customers then enter the Holoroom to experience a 3-D view of the room. A take-home printout allows customers to view a 3-D model of their room at home, and share the model with family and friends, by downloading a free app.
On the practical level, the Holoroom helps homeowners brainstorm renovation ideas. The project, according to Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe's Innovation Labs, also acknowledges 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."
Speaking to CNN, Mr. Nel noted that renovation projects often lead to squabbles between spouses over challenges visualizing colors and other details. He added, "We joked around that the name of this is the 'marriage saver'."
The Holoroom is the first concept to come from Lowe's Innovation Labs, a group designed to work with start-ups, universities, specialized professionals and other companies to come up with breakthrough consumer-facing technologies.
The Holoroom will be introduced in select Toronto stores in 2014 with a focus on bathroom remodeling. Additional product categories and rooms will be added over the next 12 to 18 months. No U.S. rollout is yet planned.
With a similar goal, Snapshop Showroom, an app pioneered by IKEA but now used by hundreds of retailers, allows customers to superimpose images of products they desire over their home interiors. Last year, IKEA upgraded its app to enable customers to scan select pages of its printed catalog with their smartphone or tablet to visualize how items may appear in their home.
Other augmented reality applications being tested at retail include letting shoppers see how clothes or cosmetics look on themselves via a 3-D screen, removing the need to physically try the products on.
Do you see broad or more limited applications around the use of augmented reality at retail?