Lowe’s Innovation Labs, the disruptive innovation hub of Lowe’s Companies, has joined forces with Made in Space, to launch a commercial 3D printer into space that will bring tools and technology to astronauts in ISS.
Meanwhile, here on Earth, Lowe’s is launching the next-generation Lowe’s Holoroom – an in-store and at-home virtual reality design tool that enables customers to envision the room of their dreams.
Representing the first permanent additive manufacturing facility for the International Space Station (ISS), Lowe’s 3D printer is slated to arrive at the ISS in early 2016. 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. Made in Space, along with NASA has already successfully demonstrated the technology’s capabilities in space.
Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, said that this is just the beginning of a broader partnership with Made in Space that will bring tools to space and new technology to Earth.
In 2014, Lowe’s Innovation Labs introduced its first proof of concept, the Lowe’s Holoroom. The augmented reality design experience was successfully tested in the Toronto area stores for six months. This paved the way for next-generation Lowe’s Holoroom that will be installed in 19 stores across the United States beginning next month.
The 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. It combines YouTube’s 360-degree video capabilities with Google Cardboard, enabling customers to enjoy and share their virtual kitchen or bathroom design whenever and wherever they choose.
Lowe’s Innovation Labs was created in 2014 to develop disruptive technologies by bringing together uncommon partners with a commitment to get technology out of the lab and into the real world. In its first year, Lowe’s Innovation Labs collaborated with startups to introduce the first-generation Lowe’s Holoroom, the OSHbot autonomous retail service robot and in-store and online 3D scanning and printing.
Image courtesy of Lowe’s Innovation Labs. Video credits: Lowe’s Home Improvement