NEW ORLEANS: Lowe’s, the home-improvement chain, believes that technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) could help solve a $70bn problem by letting consumers envision the end result of their projects.

Amanda Manna, Head/Narratives and Partnerships at Lowe’s Innovation Labs, discussed this topic at the Data & Marketing Association’s (DMA) &Then Conference.

More specifically, she reported that tools such as AR and VR can assist customers in gaining a clear picture of what their do-it-yourself plans would look like if implemented in practice.

“One of the hardest things about home improvement is the ability to visualise what your project is going to look like at the end, or to be able to communicate to someone else who you’re working with what your vision is for that project,” she said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Lowe’s taps VR and AR to tackle a $70 billion problem.)

“We’ve actually calculated that this is about a $70bn problem for Lowe’s every year – the people who never even start a project because they’re afraid of how it’s going to turn out, or they really just can’t get motivated to get off the couch and do something about it.”

For shoppers gripped by indecision, she continued: “We really thought that augmented and virtual reality technology would allow us to build visualisation tools that have never before been possible.”

Lowe’s ventures in this arena to date have included “Holorooms”, or physical-meets-virtual spaces that employ either AR or VR to help people map out individual projects.

“What we saw was that VR, because of how immersive it is, was the perfect environment for learning, so the current generation of the ‘Holoroom’ is ‘Holoroom How To,’” said Manna, referring to educational DIY content created by Lowe’s.

“What we were seeing for design and collaboration was that augmented reality, delivered via a smartphone, was finally starting to get at that cognitive sweet spot for people where they had the right level of interest, they were excited about what they were doing, and they were motivated to finish the project.”

Sourced from WARC