When it comes to retail chains more and more are targeting virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) as a way to generate new business. In fact, according to a report that VRFocus reported on earlier today, retail firms should indeed be looking at AR within the next six months or risk losing business.
There are plenty of firms out there teaming with studios to create experiences in both VR and AR, some in the form of 360 degree videos and short VR films. Others in the form of small games and software applications. But one of the keenest to experiment with new immersive technologies is one I doubt many would have picked in the early days of this current generations: North American DIY and home improvement retailer Lowe’s Companies, Inc – better known just as Lowe’s.
After expanding the company’s Innovation Labs to include VR back in 2015, Lowe’s followed up in November 2016 by looking to Google’s Project Tango to produce an AR app called Lowe’s Vision. In March this year Lowe’s made two announcements, the first being related to education as Lowe’s announced VR clinics showing customers how to tackle tricky projects in VR. The second introduced in-store navigation using AR. Lowe’s have also been a part of several immersive technology events in America throughout the last three years. Now the company is looking to utilise Apple’s ARKit in two new apps for measuring and design.
Measured is, as the name suggests, an app used to precisely measure items or distances that your phone can see. The app is developed by Lowe’s digital team whilst the second was developed by The Mine, itself a part of overall Lowe’s business and developer of the second AR app which is a shopping and virtual showroom experience that combines technology and content used by Lowe’s Innovation Labs with The Mine’s own online catalogue of items
“Our customers come to The Mine for a seamless, high-touch shopping experience that combines design-inspired home furnishings with a personal concierge level of service.” Says Michelle Newbery, President of The Mine in the release. “With our new app, we’re taking this virtual showroom a step further to build customer confidence before they buy.”
“At Lowe’s, we believe in harnessing the power of technology to solve every day problems.” Explains Gihad Jawhar, Lowe’s Vice President for Digital Development. “Beginning with the Holoroom debut in 2014, to the launch of Lowe’s Vision last November, to the introduction of In-Store Navigation in March, Lowe’s has been at the forefront of exploring how mixed reality technology can enhance the customer experience. We were immediately onboard to expand this capability into Apple’s ARKit to help solve some of the most common visualization barriers in home improvement: measurement and design.” Speaking on Measured specifically, Jawhar noted its creation came about from realising just how much use it could get. “We learned how much we actually measure on a day-to-day basis and set out to create a beautiful tool that would help people quickly and easily measure moments, as well as projects. The app’s versatility and ability to address virtually any consumer measurement need, with both accuracy and an entertaining user experience, is pretty incredible.”
VRFocus will bring you more news on the continued developments at Lowe’s as we get them.
Update: This post has been updated with an additional clarification about the app developers.