On Monday, with just days left before Christmas, Lowe's dropped a surprise augmented reality treat in everyone's lap: a brand new Magic Leap One app.
With little fanfare or warning, the Lowe's Showroom app popped up in the Magic Leap World section on the Magic Leap One as a free download.
The download is relatively quick, but that's when things get a bit tricky. Although it's great to see Lowe's manage to get its Magic Leap app out before the end of the year, it could have used a little more time in the testing and development oven.
Opening the app is immediately fun, with a Lowe's logo floating in front of you that you have to tap to start the app off. After tapping, the logo falls to the floor, directing your attention to a Lowe's welcome mat that you're prompted to place somewhere in your space. (Lowe's has learned a lot in the last few years, and this subtle direction of the user's attention in immersive space is proof of that.)
Once you place the welcome mat, an AR menu pops up that shows you a 3D piece of household furniture (bathroom sink installations, etc.) placed alongside a menu of other pieces of household furniture that you can scroll through using your hand.
Then, when you land on an item you like, you can select and watch as it transforms into a life-sized version of the item.
Overall, the app is simple and makes shopping fun, which is in keeping with Lowe's past forays into the immersive computing platforms of both VR and AR.
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However, at this point, using the Lowe's Magic Leap app is a little more trouble than it's worth. First off, tracking was all over the place. Even after re-mapping my space several times, the app continued to lose track of where the menu should be. (You hold the bumper and raise your closed fist to place the menu in a new area.)
Similarly, the virtual wooden pallet used for positioning (you press the bumper on the controller to use this feature) was generally hard to control and didn't always stay within the space I'd designated for the AR shopping experience.
Speaking of shopping, I was unable to discover any way within the app to buy anything from the Lowe's website. If this is an available feature, it's pretty well obscured. I also ran into another issue I've experienced with a couple of other apps on the Magic Leap One — there's no clear way to exit the app and get back to the main Magic Leap World menu without restarting the device. (Granted, these are all effectively beta apps on a developer-centric device, but an exit button seems like a fair request.)
As is, this appears to be an app that functions primarily as a showroom, crafted to show you what the store has available, at what prices, and what those items might look like in your home. In that respect, the app "almost" does a fantastic job, but I can't ignore the bugginess of the experience.
Bugs aside, this is an encouraging look at how a mainstream retailer can harness the power of the Magic Leap One in a way that isn't a gimmick, and is something consumers can get something out of when it comes to bringing the showroom to your home or office.