Home improvement chain Lowe's is launching two new augmented reality apps on Monday that leverage capabilities in Apple's ARKit.
One app, dubbed Measured by Lowe's, acts as a digital tape measure to let users take real-world measurements through their phone's camera. The other is called Envisioned by The Mine, and it gives users the ability to see what a renovation project could look like before they actually begin.
The technology is a continuation on Lowe's augmented, virtual and mixed reality testing in its stores, beginning with the Holoroom debut in 2014, followed by the launch of Lowe's Vision app last November, to the recent introduction of its In-Store Navigation app in March.
The common thread through all of the apps is an effort to solve problems posed by visualization. Consumers today have plenty of shopping tools at their disposal, but the ability to make informed purchasing decisions can still be a challenge. AR technologies could reduce confusion and encourage sales.
On the business side, Lowe's can also pitch its AR functionality to the likes of real estate brokers, interior designers, and contractors as a tool to close deals, create budgets, and outline projects.
"At Lowe's, we believe in harnessing the power of technology to solve every day problems," said Gihad Jawhar, VP of digital development at Lowe's. "We were immediately onboard to expand this capability into Apple's ARKit to help solve some of the most common visualization barriers in home improvement: measurement and design."
Apple unveiled ARKit in June at its WWDC conference. The platform, designed to be part of iOS 11, aims to take Apple's installed iPhone base and enable developers to create augmented reality apps. Several retailers, including Build.com, Houzz, Wayfair, and Overstock.com, have announced new AR apps for Apple's latest operating system.
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The aim with the AR experiment is to create an immersive dual-screen experience that brings shoppers closer to the network and the brands that sell within it.
Augmented reality is likely to become a key cog in digital transformation efforts. Cue the race between Apple and Google.
One is software without a device. The other is a device without any software. Both could be big plays for developers.