If you’ve ever struggled to find what you’re looking for in (what seems like) the endless labyrinthine aisles of popular home improvement stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot and Menards, you’ll be excited to hear that one home improvement giant is launching a mobile app that will help you navigate to specific products in the store. Lowe’s has announced the April launch of its Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation app, which uses augmented reality to allow shoppers to search for products, add them to a shopping list and locate those products within the store right from their smartphones.
“Our research shows that helping make it easier for customers to find products in stores not only makes for a better shopping experience, it allows our associates to spend more time advising on home improvement projects,” said Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs. “With Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation, we’ve created a more seamless experience using breakthrough technology so customers can save time shopping and focus more on their project.”
The catch? When the app initially launches in April, it’ll only be available in Sunnyvale, California, and Lynwood, Washington, and requires a Tango-enabled device to use. Tango is a Google augmented reality technology that uses multiple cameras to create 3D perceptions of space rather than 2D images. Johnny Lee, Tango engineering lead at Google, describes Tango as “visual GPS. It’s a mixture of computer vision, depth processing and spatial memory … built as a software package for phone manufacturers.” Using Tango, Lowe’s new in-store navigation app will use computer vision to detect the shopper’s position in the store and provide them with turn-by-turn directions on their mobile device, leading them directly to the product they’re looking for. Tango is currently only available on the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and the Asus ZenFone AR; however, shoppers who don’t own a Tango-enabled device will have the opportunity to demo the app with a store associate during the pilot.
This isn’t the first time Lowe’s has attempted to bring virtual and augmented reality to its customers. In August of 2016, the home improvement retailer partnered with Tango to launch its first Vision app, with this app intended for home rather than in-store use. The app allows customers to measure spaces within their homes and drop in 3D-rendered versions of products that fit those measurements, creating visualizations of how appliances and home décor will look and fit together in a room.
In 2014, Lowe’s introduced its Holoroom, a virtual reality home improvement tool that helps homeowners build and visualize rooms before embarking on their improvement projects. Earlier this month, Lowe’s added to its Holoroom experience by launching “Holoroom How To,” virtual reality DIY clinics that teach consumers how to do home improvement projects. The idea is to give consumers the confidence to do home improvement projects they may not have otherwise attempted. We’re sure this isn’t the last we’ll hear from Lowe’s Innovation Labs.