Renovation giant mixes augmented reality and...
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Nov 25, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Renovation giant mixes augmented reality and bathroom renos

The Holoroom simulator allows customers to walk around and see ‘their room’ while experiencing its dimensions and how they work in a 3D space.


Nestled between the cashiers and public washrooms at the Lowe’s store at Islington and the 401 isn’t the first place one would expect to find technological innovation, but the hardware retailer is hoping to surprise its customers with by launching what it is calling the Holoroom.

The company is launching an augmented reality simulator to help customers design and renovate their bathrooms. The actually Holoroom is little more than a metal frame and walls featuring designs of hammers and other tool patterns. Upon arrival a customer is greeted by a store employee who takes them through an iPad app, which starts with their room’s approximate dimensions, and then they can go through thousands of products, including paint swatches, fixtures and more, to custom design the bathroom of their dreams.

Once completed, they walk into the Holoroom, and with the iPad serving as a lens, they can see and walk around and see the room and get an experience of its dimensions and how it works in a 3D space. As well, they can change things on the fly, like changing the paint colour or a different mirror. The other really neat thing is that there is dollar total of the cost of the products, so in real time, the user can tweak items to try and see how it affects the price.

“There a lot of expectations with new technology that people will be able to solve some of the issues that they have had forever. The basic issue is you don’t have the capacity for abstract visualization of the project,” says Sylvain Prud’homme, President of Lowe’s Canada. “So if we can crack that, and figure out a way of providing that customer a helpful experience prior to a buying decision, that’s huge.”

In the works for the past two years, the project was designed by Lowe’s Innovation Labs who were working with Sci Futures, a consulting firm. The North Etobicoke and the Burlington-based Lowe’s are the first two locations for the new technology.

One thing that people should know is that despite the name, there are no holograms involved. It is an augmented reality experience, but it is cool way to help solve a problem that many people have, visualizing the changes they want to make in a 3D space.

“I think it’s really important to lay out that this is not the final version of where we are going with this. I wouldn’t even call this version 1.0 it’s .5 of where we want to take this. Even the Holodeck had a first step and everything has to start somewhere,” says Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs.

Nel says thing coming to down the line including more flexibility in the product, a Lowes MyHoloroom iOS app coming in early 2015, which people can use at home to design their room, and then come into the store to see. That home app will also let people as save their designed project. Currently, users will just get a printout of the products selected while trying it out. As well, it will eventually expand beyond bathrooms to other kinds of projects.

As to why the project is starting off in Canada, Prud’homme says that the company’s smaller size helps them try new things.

“Why Canada? Because we’re still quite a small organization here. We have 37 stores here, and we have the ability to be quite flexible and nimble, and we work in tandem,” he says.

As for being surprised that Lowe’s is trying out cutting edge technology, well, Prud’homme also mentions that the company is testing out robot customer service helpers in one of their California stores.

Toronto Star

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