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Lowe's Holoroom Test Drive uses VR to let you 'try before you buy'

By Cal Jeffrey · 4 replies
Jul 18, 2018
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  1. Home improvement giant Lowe’s has been running pilot programs of its Holoroom Test Drive for a few months now with notable success. The platform allows customers and staff to try a virtual version of a power tool to both learn how to operate it and see how it handles. In the past four years, Lowe’s Innovation Labs (LIL) has conducted over 10 pilot programs of its Holoroom and has charted a 127-percent increase in user confidence in using the featured tools.

    “My team has recognized that immersive technologies have the potential to change the way customers try and purchase products online and in stores,” LIL Producer Olivia Myers told Vive. “At Lowe’s Innovation Labs, we use virtual reality to break down visualization barriers to empower customers with the confidence and skills they need to begin a project.”

    An HTC Vive powers Holoroom Test Drive. Combined with a custom-built Kobalt 24V cordless hedge trimmer controller, the platform gives customers and associates a realistic feel for the tool. The controller replicates the actual weight of the real-world counterpart and provides realistic haptics, sound, and even the scents produced while using a trimmer.

    Holoroom is more than learning how to trim a hedge though.

    “Lowe’s Innovation Labs developed the Holoroom platform with the intent of helping customers visualize their home improvement projects by providing an immersive, intuitive VR experience,” said Myers. “Since then, it’s evolved into multiple experiences for both customers and associates, including visualization, navigation, skills training and most recently, product demos. Customers step into a virtual garage and backyard environment where they can safely and realistically learn how to operate power equipment.”

    Currently, the technology is only in use at a handful of Lowe’s retail locations and is still considered to be in the testing phase. While the demos do have video game aspects to them — like an arcade mode that allows you to test your hedge trimming skills — they are primarily designed to demonstrate product features, safety tips, and how to handle the tool.

    Lowe’s Innovation Labs seems to be taking KFC’s wacky (and somewhat creepy) chicken frying VR trainer concept and bringing it to a more sensible and pragmatic level. I’m intrigued to give it a try, but unfortunately, they aren’t running a pilot in my area. If you happen to have had some hands-on experience with the demo, let us know what you thought about it in the comments.

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  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,388   +5,015

    This is hilarious! I can see people returning products. Because real life wasn't the same experience as VR. Everything is and will always be less complicated in VR.
    Reehahs and Cal Jeffrey like this.
  3. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 817   +400

    I hope they make a VR chainsaw horror game to play at lowes.
    Reehahs, Cal Jeffrey and kombu like this.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,720   +806

    Lol, ok... maybe it isn't as silly as it sounds, but it sure sounds silly. May be useful for more operating more complicated equipment like a small digger or something, but simple power tools? What about VR for repair and replacement of stuff around the home, like a sink or toilet? Stuff like that where it would be helpful to learn before doing it yourself?
    cliffordcooley and Cal Jeffrey like this.
  5. Cal Jeffrey

    Cal Jeffrey TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,767   +427

    As I understand it they have that type of stuff too. Here's a video of the platform being used to teach people how to put up wall tile.

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