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(Author : Kinsey Grant)
Lowe’s will open up smart home mini-stores at 70 locations nationwide in a partnership with software-powered retailer b8ta.

Lowe's Makes Push for Smart Home Retail With New Store-Within-a-Store Setups

The home improvement retailer is making a push to sell more smart home software by opening up 70 pop-up shops focused on connected home technology at Lowe’s stores across the country, the company said in a statement.

The “store-within-a-store” concept is a partnership with software-powered retailer b8ta. Lowe’s piloted the smart home concept at three “Smart Home powered by b8ta” locations last fall. This expansion comes after the three test spots enjoyed successful runs.

“The store-within-a-store offers an innovative shopping solution for customers interested in smart home devices,” Lowe’s said. “Each destination features a curated selection of top-rated smart home products and offers consumers onsite support from specially trained experts known as ‘b8ta testers.‘”

The pop-up stores are meant to offer a “lab-like” atmosphere so shoppers can test out smart home devices or ask questions about purchases. The items offered at the smart home locations include security systems, thermostats, cameras and lighting solutions from brands such as Alphabet Inc.’s, Google and Nest, Sonos, General Electric Co., Iris and Samsung Electronics.

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(Author : Dan O’Shea)
Lowe’s is adding two new augmented reality tools to its AR app roster early October, including a virtual tape measure app called Measured, and an app called Envisioned by The Mine, which allows customers to visualize furniture in their own homes or workplaces, according to a press release.

Lowe's leverages Apple's ARkit for new apps

Both apps are built on Apple’s ARkit development platform and can be used on iphone models 6s or newer. Measured, which uses the smartphone camera view to help users measure a specific distance, is already available for download at Apple’s App Store.

Envisioned gives users access to 3D images of items generated by Lowe’s Innovation Labs’ proprietary 3D content creation and distribution technology called LIL 3D.

The emergence of Apple’s ARkit and the official launch of iOS 11 last week have drawn several new retailers into the AR app game, but Lowe’s isn’t a newcomer. The home improvement retailer has been looking to leverage AR since well before ARKit came into play, having announced its Lowe’s Vision app for in-home project help and its Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation app earlier this year.

The retailer has also been leading the way on 3D modeling technology in-house, announcing LIL 3D, a so-called “ultra-realistic” 3D tech in July. As more retailers, particularly from the home improvement and home decor sectors, bring out their own AR apps, having proprietary stakes in some of the tech used and experience working with it could be a differentiator for Lowe’s.

The retailer looks to have the largest AR app roster of any retailer, with at least four apps that have been announced. The first two were built using Google Tango technology, usable only on the two mobile devices that support the technology so far — the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and the Asus Zenfone AR — while these two latest apps will get the benefit of being built on Apple’s new and much-hyped ARkit, and, more significantly, will be available to millions of users of many different iPhone models.

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(Author : Dan O’Shea)
Lowe’s has announced its latest Lowe’s Vision mobile app, which leverages Google’s Tango augmented reality technology on the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, the first smartphone enabled with Tango, to help customers with in-home design needs, according to Lowe’s Innovation Labs.

Lowe's unveils augmented reality app for in-home projects

“The Lowe’s Vision app enables customers to easily measure any room in their home with the touch of a finger, and style it with virtual Lowe’s products in real-time through augmented reality,” according to a statement on the Lowe’s Innovation Lab’s website. “This is a big step forward into our vision for how customers will use these technologies to design, build and enjoy their homes, from the comfort of home.” This latest mobile app comes on the heels of the March unveiling of the Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation app, which is intended primarily for in-store navigation, product search and related in-store shopping functions.

Dive Insight
A video on the Lowe’s Innovation Labs page explains the Phab 2 Pro with Tango technology has multiple cameras that allow app users to create 3-D experiences that show a highly realistic view of how a re-imagined living space will look. That really is the name of the game here, as there is no point in putting augmented reality technology into this sort of mobile app unless it is going to virtually imitate the experience of seeing the products in the customer’s actual home.

Lowe’s has been aggressively developing new technologies, and this isn’t its first augmented reality solution. In fact, just a few months ago Lowe’s announced a Vision app leveraging Tango, but that app was targeted more at in-store navigation and needs.

This app is targeted for use outside of the physical Lowe’s store, and while it’s not described as a mobile shopping app, that’s really what it is. It’s also much more advanced than most mobile shopping apps, allowing users to drop a new stove into a space in their kitchen where the old stove still sits. That’s about as close as you can get to buying the thing, having it delivered, installing it and seen it in the space — except the app takes all the nervousness, risk and mystery out of the equation. If shoppers don’t like how it looks in the app, they can drop in an image of a different stove.

The only negative here is the fact that a lot of people who might want to use the app don’t have the Phab 2 Pro smartphone. Tango is a pretty impressive 3-D technology with a lot of potential uses, and Google is sure to work hard to get it into more devices. (The upcoming Asus ZenFone AR actually looks to have some pretty major implications for retail.) For Lowe’s shoppers, wider availability of this particular app, regardless of device, can’t come soon enough.

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(Auteur : Sen360)
Le numéro 2 américain du bricolage a équipé ses salariés d’exosquelettes. Des équipements de robotique qui accompagnent leurs mouvements et atténuent la pénibilité des tâches physiques qu’ils doivent accomplir.

Comment le Castorama américain fait de ses salariés des surhommes

Et si les robots, au lieu de nous remplacer comme le prédisent les Cassandre, nous rendaient plus performants. C’est ainsi que les voit l’un des plus gros quincaillers américains, raconte Quartz. Lowe’s, numéro deux de la vente de matériel de bricolage et de jardinage outre-Atlantique, a annoncé ce mardi avoir équipé certains de ses salariés avec des exosquelettes.

Pour cette phase de test, quatre employés d’un magasin situé en Virginie essaient le module. Leur travail consiste à transporter toute la journée des articles lourds et encombrants, comme des sacs de ciment ou de gros pots de peinture. L’équipement, léger, doit leur permettre de compenser la tension que cela provoque sur leurs muscles et leurs articulations, et donc réduire la fatigue et les maux qui peuvent résulter de ces tâches pénibles et répétitives.

Cet équipement robotisé ressemble à une sorte de sac à dos avec harnais, dont des éléments descendent jusqu’à l’arrière du genou. Doté de moteur, il absorbe et redirige l’énergie de l’utilisateur. Par exemple, “quand la personne se penche en avant, la fibre de carbone qui compose l’exosquelette se tend comme un arc dans ses jambes et son dos, et l’aide à se relever plus facilement”, explique Lowe’s dans un communiqué.

L’entreprise a développé cet exosquelette en partenariat avec l’université Virginia Tech. Outre Lowe’s, de nombreuses compagnies réfléchissent à intégrer intimement la robotique dans le quotidien de travail des salariés amenés à effectuer des travaux pénibles. Les géant asiatiques Hyundai et Panasonic travaillent ainsi sur des combinaisons destinées à accroître les capacités physiques de l’homme.

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(Author  : Deena M. Amato-McCoy)
A home improvement chain is taking a page from science fiction to keep employees safe.

Lowe’s employees have a new uniform — a robotic suit

Lowe’s and Virginia Tech have joined forces to develop an exosuit — a wearable robotic suit with lift-assist technology — for Lowe’s store employees. The lightweight exosuit, which is designed to help employees lift and move product throughout the store more efficiently, and aids against muscle fatigue, is being piloted in Lowe’s Christiansburg, Virginia, store.

If the new suit sounds like something found in a science fiction novel, there’s a reason. The idea evolved in the company’s disruptive technology hub, Lowe’s Innovation Lab. One concept within the hub’s narrative-driven approach is the ability for the design team to work with science fiction writers to envision the future, and use storytelling as inspiration for innovative initiatives. The Lab envisioned a future where the use of technology could provide special “superpowers” to employees and maximize performance.

To bring this narrative to life, Lowe’s engaged Dr. Alan Asbeck, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and a team of eight graduate and undergraduate students from Virginia Tech’s Assistive Robotics Laboratory. Together, Lowe’s and Virginia Tech designed and developed an exosuit prototype after months of lab testing.

“Our employees ensure our stores are always ready for customers,” said Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs. “As a way to support them, we found a unique opportunity to collaborate with Virginia Tech to develop one of the first retail applications for assistive robotic exosuits.”

The key elements of the lightweight suit include the reinforcement of proper lifting form, and support for movements intended to make lifting heavy objects easier. The exosuit is designed to accomplish this by absorbing energy and delivering it back to the user, enabling them to exert less force to complete certain movements.

As they bend and stand, carbon fiber in the suit’s legs and back act like a taut bow ready to launch an arrow, helping them spring back up with greater ease. As a result, commonly lifted objects, like a bag of concrete or a five-gallon bucket of paint, feels significantly lighter to the user, according to the chain.

The first four suits are currently in use by the stocking team at the Christiansburg store. During the coming months, Asbeck and his team will work with Lowe’s to assess the physical impact of the suit. Lowe’s will also lead employee engagement studies to better understand the impact of the exosuit on the work experience.

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(Author : Deena M. Amato McCoy)
Lowe’s is making it even easier for in-store shoppers to locate home improvement necessities.

Home improvement retailer launches AR in-store navigation app

By tapping the power of augmented reality, the home improvement retailer introduced its Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation app. Called the first retail application of indoor mapping using augmented reality, the app is designed to simplify the home improvement shopping experience.

The solution, which is the newest creation developed in Lowe’s Innovation Labs, leverages Google’s augmented reality technology Tango, allowing shoppers with Tango-enabled smartphones to search for products, add them to a shopping list and locate the product within the store.

Specifically, the navigation tool uses Tango-enabled motion tracking, area learning and depth perception to guide customers through the store using a mixed reality interface. When a customer enters a Lowe’s store, they can use their Tango-enabled smartphone to create a list of their required items in the app and access product reviews and information to make an informed decision. Directional prompts overlaid onto the real-world setting guide the customer to each item using the most efficient route around the store, the retailer explained.

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 technology will be launched in Sunnyvale, California and Lynwood, Washington stores in April.
This is Lowe’s second app based on Tango. Lowe’s first Tango app, Lowe’s Vision, uses spatial perception to help customers embark on a home improvement project. The technology enables the user to measure spaces and visualize how products like appliances and home décor will look in their home.

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(Author : Ivanha Paz)
The home improvement chain brings service AI to its California branches.


American home improvement retail chain Lowe’s is joining the battle to remain relevant in an increasingly e-commerce dominated marketplace. Through a partnership with Silicon Valley technology firm, Fellow Robots, the company is introducing technology into its physical space, starting with retail robots across 11 California locations.

The robots are designed to make the shopping experience better, as well as act as a crossover with its online counterpart. Their main function is to help costumers locate items with robot efficiency: an arsenal of inventory information can be retrieved instantly.

Similar chains have been testing with technological measures, all in an effort to make its brick and mortar shops resemble the practical and popular e-commerce.

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(Auteur :
L’enseigne d’ameublement Lowe’s va tester sur une sélection de points de vente (à Seattle puis en Caroline du Nord) l’utilisation de casques de réalité virtuelle Holosens pour accompagner la vente de cuisines.

Lowe’s teste la réalité virtuelle pour vendre des cuisines

Dans le cadre d’un projet pilote avec Microsoft, les clients de la chaîne pourront modéliser une variété d’agencements, de mobiliers, d’équipements, de finitions et en visualiser le rendu de façon quasi-réelle. La configuration ainsi créée pourra également être partageable online (par mail, réseaux sociaux). Notons toutefois que les clients ne se voient pas proposer d’intégrer virtuellement la cuisine chez eux (i.e. avec les contraintes imposées par leur appartement/maison), mais au sein d’un espace showroom virtuel.

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(Author : Dan Berthiaume)
Lowe’s is giving customers a full 3-D view of their home projects, at home as well as in the store.

Lowe’s brings projects to life with new Holoroom

Lowe’s Innovation Labs, the retailer’s proprietary technology development center, is updating its Holoroom technology and expanding its availability. Partnering with virtual reality technology provider Oculus VR and Google, Lowe’s has upgraded its Holoroom feature, which lets customers visualize how they could use tools and materials sold at Lowe’s.
Lowe’s initially launched Holoroom in stores in the Toronto area for six months in 2014. Now, the retailer will roll out Holoroom in 19 stores across the U.S. beginning in November.

Holoroom has evolved from a single-platform augmented reality solution to a virtual reality design and visualization tool that leverages Oculus Rift optic technology in stores and Google Cardboard viewers that consumers can take home. Lowe’s Innovation Labs and Google collaborated to create a shareable Holoroom experience that combines YouTube’s 360-degree video capabilities with Google Cardboard to enable customers to view and share their design ideas at will.

“Holoroom started out as a 30-by-30-sq.-ft. box in the store with virtual reality running through an iPad,” Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, said in an interview with Chain Store Age. “Now, we’re giving consumers specially built Google Cardboard headsets in free vending machines located in stores. Using the Holoroom app, it will turn their smartphones into virtual reality devices that will let them see their Holoroom wherever they want.” As Nel described, one of the biggest problems for consumers shopping at Lowe’s is that it can be hard to visualize how they will use products in their homes, or how projects will actually look. In addition, Holoroom lets consumers share their visual ideas. “Most people make design decisions with a significant other, or at least with input from family and friends,” said Nel.

In addition, Nel said consumers can use Holoroom to share and review project ideas with contractors to ensure they are on the same page with specs. Also, Holoroom can help consumers mid-project. “One of the most painful parts of any renovation is the period when the house is ripped up,” said Nel. “Holoroom lets you visualize where everything will be once it’s done.” The Holoroom development process was an adaptation of a process known as “Science Fiction Prototyping.”

“We give our market research and data to professional science fiction writers, who look at technology and people trends to see how technology might affect the lives of the people using it. Then we turn those narratives into comic books that the executive team reads to help them make strategic decisions. It’s not fanciful. It’s purposeful and driven by how people react.”

In other innovation, the Lowe’s 3D printer is slated to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) in early 2016, making Lowe’s the first retailer to have a presence in space. From 200 miles above Earth, astronauts can use 3D printing technology to create a tool on-demand and produce parts they may not have onboard and immediately available.

“Lowe’s and Made in Space share a vision of how 3D printing can revolutionize retail and home improvement, while also changing the way astronauts work in space,” said Nel. “This is just the beginning of a broader partnership with Made in Space that will bring tools to space and new technology to Earth.”

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(Author : Natalie Zmuda)
Plenty of marketers are experimenting with Vine, but few have made the 6-second video platform truly useful for consumers. Lowe’s may be on its way to cracking the code.

Lowe's Sanford Store #3608 Reopening


The home improvement retailer has launched a dozen Vine videos featuring home improvement tips like how to remove a stripped screw, get rust off of knives and use pillowcases to organize sheets. Those tips had existed in text form, but Vine provided the “perfect vehicle to bring them to life and make them shareable and fun to watch,” explained Wil Boudreau, executive creative director at BBDO, New York, Lowe’s agency.

“Historically the category can be thought of as incredibly complicated. We sell products but those products are components to a project, and a consumer needs all the information on how to complete the project,” said Tom Lamb, chief marketing officer at Lowe’s. “What consumer behavior is forcing us to do is learn to be incredibly concise. We’re making an effort to demonstrate that we know a little bit, so [consumers think] it’s worth seeing what else we know on our site and in store.”

Vine has been around for three months, though it gained widespread attention last month as a news platform during the Boston bombing. To date, the 6-second videos have primarily been used to record relatively trivial and mundane daily happenings.

“I wouldn’t say it’s great for every marketer,” Mr. Boudreau said. “A lot of marketers are trying to jump into it but are doing a one-off thing that doesn’t have a brand message attached to it.”

Still, “a wonderful body of work with such a low cost is great in this day and age,” Mr. Boudreau added. “That’s what Vine brings you — ability for exposure without great investment.”

Lowe’s tapped an expert to help with its Vine debut. Meagan Cignoli, a photographer and established Vine user, worked with BBDO on the videos, which were shot in the agency’s New York office. Ms. Cignoli was also a finalist with two entries in the inaugural #6secfilms Vine contest at the Tribeca Film Festival.

“We shot them all on an iPhone in our closet-sized studio. [Meagan] brought a lot of talent and a nice feel for how to bring these things to life in a quirky way,” Mr. Boudreau said. “She had embraced stop-motion photography and used it in a way that made us smile and felt right for the brand.”

Mr. Lamb said he’s closely watching the number of views Lowe’s debut videos attract, but he’s more interested to see how often consumers share the videos. Though it’s still early, Mr. Lamb said results so far have been “very promising.”

“There’s a lighthearted touch of how this neat set of tips is presented to the consumer. It gives our brand a different dimension,” Mr. Lamb said. The jury’s still out, he noted, on how many Vine videos you’ll see from the brand.

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