Lowe's Innovation Labs has introduced a new proprietary 3-D scanning technology called LIL 3D: a proprietary, end-to-end 3D scanning platform comprised of dedicated hardware and software.
The aim of the new technology, developed by Lowe’s Innovation Labs Seattle team, is to allow the creation of 3D product assets “of such high quality that they’re nearly indistinguishable from reality,” according to the labs unit’s LIL 3D website.
Lowe’s is running private beta program of LIL 3D involving several 3D assets on the e-commerce site of its home décor subsidiary The Mine, and through the Lowe’s Vision home design app for Google’s Tango augmented reality platform for smartphone.
Though operating as a beta version right now, this technology arrives at a key time for The Mine, which Lowe’s rebranded and is seeking to revitalize with a new strategic mission as a more personalized concierge platform. A real-feel 3D look could help The Mine differentiate from other home décor e-commerce players, at least in a small way, and perhaps help it find better footing.
It's also a good fit for the Lowe's Vision augmented reality app, which allows users to measure a room and fill it with virtual decor objects to get a fairly realistic view of how a finished and fully realized room design would look. Getting a 3D look at the furniture and other items you want to put in that rooms makes sense, and could very well become an expectation of shoppers who use the app.
If this new technology performs well, maybe we will see it used more widely, and on Lowe’s flagship e-commerce site, sooner rather than later. The retailer has been a sector leader in the development of virtual and augmented reality technologies, though it also has been cautious about expanding offerings such as its HoloLens augmented reality tool, created with Microsoft, which it tested in two stores for almost six months before deciding to expand to another three stores last fall.
Lowe's highlighted the proprietary nature of the technology, but it is also important to note that Lowe's isn't the only retailer actively working with 3D technology and continuing to look for new ways to use and improve it. Wayfair also has done a lot in that regard, including creating a 3D image library to spur app development. Lowe's is looking to use 3D to gain an edge in how people shop, and it makes sense that it would result in a more pleasing shopping experience. But will it drive incremental sales and does it give Lowe's a true competitive edge? All questions that remain to be answered by shoppers.