Lowe’s, a major North American retailer of home improvement goods, has dreamt up an interesting in-store use of VR. Using an HTC Vive and a specially made controller, the ‘Holoroom Test Drive’ allows anyone timid around power tools to put on a VR headset to learn how to use the tools in a safe virtual space.
Developed by Lowe’s Innovation Labs in collaboration with startup Krayonik, the Holoroom lets customers learn how to use a Kobalt hedge trimmer to chop hedges in virtual reality before deciding if they want to take the product home.
The controller in the demo is based on the actual tool, with a Vive controller replacing the handle and a Vive Tracker on each hand, allowing both the tool and the user’s hand to be independently tracked in the virtual environment. Haptics were also added to the tool to enhance realism.
The objective of Holoroom is to provide customers an opportunity to get a feel for the tool before actually purchasing it. The hope is that the interactivity and training will lead to increased purchase conversion, while the convenience of VR means that training can happen quickly safely right in the store.
“$70 billion worth of home improvement projects are stalled because customers aren’t able to visualize the final product,” said Olivia Myers, a producer of the Lowe’s Innovation Labs, according to the official HTC Vive blog. Lowe’s Innovation Labs uses AR and VR to try and break down that barrier to allow customers to start their own projects.
Innovation Labs has been working with AR and VR platforms since 2014 with the original intent to assist customers with home projects. Since that time additional experiences have been developed for both customers and employees. Myers said that early versions of a VR training program for employees have led to a 127% increase in confidence compared to traditional training procedures.