Lowe's creates holodeck-like room for customers to try out renovations

The Holoroom technology will be offered in stores in the near future

Taking a tech cue from Star Trek, Lowe's today announced it will be installing "Holorooms" in its stores where customers can experience what home renovations will look like.

The Holoroom is essentially a 3D augmented reality area, where customers use a specially designed tablet to first recreate the room in their home they want to renovate.

Lowe's Holoroom (Image: Lowe's)

The customers can then add furniture, appliances, flooring, lighting, fixtures and other décor from Lowe's to build out the space. Once completed, customers simply hold up the tablet and walk around the room to get a virtual reality view of the space.

The Holoroom, created by tech consultancy SciFutures and Lowe's Innovation Labs, is being tested in stores, and is expected to soon become an app for home use.

"The things that are coming up are going to blow people away, no question about it," Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe's Innovation Labs, said in a video about the technology.

"That augmented reality experience allows you to walk up and see the actual grain of the wood. It's an intuitive experience -- the way you'd really experience a room," Nel continued. "You walk around. You don't just stand and look at it. You walk and you see and get under parts, you see underneath cabinets."

The Lowe's Holoroom will be introduced in select Toronto stores in 2014, and equipped with thousands of products to help customers plan a bathroom remodel. Additional product categories and rooms will be added to the Holoroom to help plan projects throughout a home over the next 12 to 18 months, the company said.

Lowe's hasn't established a timeline for rolling the technology out to U.S. stores.

A customer checks out a new vanity through the Holoroom tablet (Image: Lowe's)

"It will depend on consumer feedback in Toronto and what kind of changes we might want to make based on how customers interact with the experience in stores," a spokesperson wrote in an email response to Computerworld.

While in the Holoroom, customers can make changes to the room design or finalize their plans, Lowe's said in a statement. A take-home printout will allow customers to view a 3D model of their room at home. That model room can also be shared via a free app available on iOS or Android devices.

The home version of the Holoroom will start by users printing out a QR code-style image. They can then design the room on a tablet and point the tablet at the paper image and move it around to experience the 3D augmented reality effect.

The Lowe's Holoroom is a home improvement simulator that applies 3D and augmented reality technologies to provide homeowners an immersive experience in a room they want to renovate.

Lucas Mearian covers consumer data storage, consumerization of IT, mobile device management, renewable energy, telematics/car tech and entertainment tech for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at  @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

See more by Lucas Mearian on Computerworld.com.

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