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Lowe’s Taking In-Store AR/VR To The Next Level

No. 1 appliance retailer Lowe’s is taking its futuristic HoloRoom home-improvement simulation space to the next dimension.

As a refresher, the HoloRoom — which really ain’t that far off from “Star Trek’s” Holodeck — utilizes 3D and AR technologies to help customers visualize their dream kitchens. The pilot project was developed three years ago by the chain’s Innovation Labs skunkworks division, and is only available in a handful of stores.

Enter Holoroom How To, an on-demand, VR skills clinic that represents the Holoroom’s latest iteration. Debuting at select Lowe’s locations in Boston and Canada, the simulated experience employs AR and VR to move beyond design assistance to address home improvement learning and skills.

“During the past three years we have been exploring real-life applications of augmented and virtual reality experiences to directly help our customers solve everyday problems,” said Innovations Labs executive director Kyle Nel. “Our experience has shown that customers are embracing AR/VR as part of their home improvement journey, and now, we are using immersive VR to help our customers learn the required skills to complete challenging home improvement projects.”

Lowe’s said Holoroom How To was developed in response to company research confirming that not all customers have the confidence or necessary skills to embark on DIY projects. This latest iteration provides a more effective training tool by immersing customers in virtual DIY projects via a VR headset and controller in each hand, providing step-by-step instructions, and allowing them to learn and proceed at their own pace.

Initial projects include tiling a shower, but could also conceivably cover majap hookup and installation. Haptic feedback adds to the life-like experience, and initial testing of the technology has not only shown an increase in recall, but also that training through VR using Holoroom How To boosts customer confidence and enhances motivation to take on DIY projects, the retailer said.

Lowe’s will continue to evaluate customer response to the new educational tool at its Framingham, Mass., and Burlington, Canada stores over the next several months to further gauge how it impacts customer learning and confidence.

Ultimately, the company said, Holoroom How To could provide “massively scalable training opportunities” for both customers and employees around the world.