Virtual Reality Your Way to Home Improvement

Feel less than handy? Lowe’s is using virtual reality to provide no-risk practice for DIY projects.

 

My bathroom could use some serious love, perhaps a tile redo or a vanity replacement. Unfortunately, doing this type of makeover is a little beyond my self-renovation repertoire and I don't want to risk costly mistakes. Help for folks like me may soon be on the way, however.

Lowe’s has found a high-tech solution: The home improvement chain is experimenting with virtual reality tutorials in Massachusetts and may soon roll out the program to other locations.

Participants in the program put on a VR headset to step into a heliographic room, "the holoroom," where an HTC Vive hand controller enables them to simulate mixing mortar and placing tile. In the first trial run of the VR experiment, Lowe’s found customers had a 36 percent better recall of how to complete the job compared with folks that merely watched a YouTube video for instruction, according to CNN.

The reason: VR’s ability to deliver a tactile, immersive experience allows for better learning, according to Kyle Nel, the director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs. Moreover, while Lowe’s and other home improvement chains offer in-store clinics to teach specific DIY skills, they are offered at set times, which isn’t always convenient. A VR experience, on the other hand, is available to anyone, anytime they come into the store.

Lowe’s is also betting that VR, which has significant appeal with game-enthusiast millennials, will increase first-time home owners' penchant for DIY projects.

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