Sci-Fi Writing Influencing Innovation

Video Chat. The Internet. Ear buds, Antidepressants. All of these innovations can be found in science fiction stories many years before they became reality, and now the Holoroom is one of them.

In an interesting collaberation, Lowe’s teamed with science fiction writers at SciFutures to help solve a common problem that vexes home improvement customers everyday. One might wonder, “What could sci-fi writers possibly bring to a brand selling DIY products and home decor?”

The seeds of the idea were planted with SciFutures co-founder Ari Popper, who commissioned a story and pictures about a hapless future couple who design their next DIY projectusing a 3D virtual simulator.

Lowe’s Innovation Labs made the simulator a reality they’re calling Holorooms. Holorooms will launch in two Lowe’s outlets in Toronto later this year.

Essentially, shoppers can build virtual 3D models of, for example, their bathroom and see how different mirrors, vanities, fixtures would look in it. The concept helps tackle the difficulty shoppers often have visualizing what new products will look like in their own space.

Lowes VR
The Holoroom uses augmented reality, a technology that enriches the real world with digital information such as 3D models. Shoppers input the dimensions of the room they’re trying to animate into a computer program and load different products they’re thinking of purchasing. They then gointo a Holoroom with a tablet. There, they can use the tablet to see what the room would look like with the new products they’re thinking about purchasing. Markers on the walls and floor of the Holoroom helps inform scale so that products appear correctly sized for the environment.

Walking around the Holoroom is designed to replicate the feeling of walking in the users’ actual room, giving shoppers the ability to, for example, toggle through different cabinets for their kitchen.

Although Holoroom will launch in only two Lowe’s stores in Toronto later this year, Lowe’s Innovation’s Labs have continued their work with the writers of SciFutures and will be making more announcements in the coming months. Stay tuned.

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