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Lowe’s is Testing AR Tech in Interesting Ways

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Nearly a year ago, Lowe’s entered the metaverse, with digital assets and NFTs. Now, according to their Innovation Labs website, Lowe’s is testing new augmented reality (AR) technologies to help support the efforts of their store associates.

Lowe’s Store Digital Twin project is described as giving associates superpowers to better serve customers.

Lowe’s is leveraging Nvidia Omniverse technology, and created an industry-first interactive replica of Lowe’s stores that showcases a future in which AI and XR are part of their associates’ daily lives.

The are building toward a future in which their associates can visualize and interact with nearly all of a store’s digital data, thanks to the digital twin.

The digital twin stores fuse spatial data with product location, historical information, and data from advanced in-store sensors.

This technology is currently live in two [Lowe’s] stores, where their associates can not only visualize and interface with a Lowe’s store in 3D, but can interact with nearly all of a store’s data in new ways, across a range of devices.

Visuals show associates wearing Magic Leap 2 augmented reality headsets. The interactivity enabled by the digital store and AR tech “opens up numerous possibilities for Lowe’s associates.”

Lowe’s gives an example where the AR headsets allow associates to “see a hologram of the digital twin overlaid atop the physical store in augmented reality. This can help an associate compare what a store shelf should look like versus what it actually looks like, and make sure it’s stocked with the right products in the right configurations.”

The AR headsets will also provide a non-literal “X-Ray Vision” where associates can “view information on obscured items on hard-to-reach shelves.” In other words, they can view information without having to climb a ladder to read or peek inside a cardboard carton.

With an AR headset and the digital twin, the associate could look up at a partially obscured cardboard box from ground level, and, thanks to computer vision and Lowe’s inventory application programming interfaces (APIs), determine and view its contents via an AR overlay.

Lowes Digital Store Analysis with AR Headset

Lowe’s says the tech allows allows for store visualizations and optimization.

Just as e-commerce sites gather analytics to optimize the customer shopping experience online, the digital twin enables new ways of viewing sales performance and customer traffic data to optimize the in-store experience using 3D heatmaps and distance measurements of items frequently bought together.

Lowes Digital Store Custom Simulations

The tech also allows for simulations, where they can use historical order and product location data with “AI avatars to simulate how far customers or associates might need to walk to pick up items often bought together.”

Nvidia’s promo video advertises that their collaboration with Lowe’s is “reinventing retail.” The video presents a brief and interesting technical overview:

There’s a lot of power in this type of technology, and it will be interesting to see if Lowe’s expands the Store Digital Twin concept to more stores.

There’s also the question as to whether any of this will eventually benefit Lowe’s store associates or customers in significant ways.