How memorable is an experience in VR? How much more engaging? For whom will it be more valuable, your customers or your internal stakeholders? And will it differ for shopping, training, or even learning? Featured at AWE USA, the Lowe’s Infinite Kitchen featuring HaptX, brought us inside research the Lowe’s Innovation Labs (full video below) to imagine the future of stores that are infused with spatial commerce.

My time in the Lowe’s Infinite Kitchen demo was brief but immersive. Within moments I was “in the kitchen”, and the level of immersion was heightened with HaptX gloves and full occlusion. In that sense, I don’t think that a mixed reality experience – partially occluded with physical and digital elements – would have had the same impact. For example, a mixed reality experience would reveal the HaptX gloves when I looked down at my hands, thus breaking the illusion. VR conversely creates a believable simulation – in tandem with the gloves – that I’m feeling the handle on the faucet, or opening the oven, or filling a pan with batter.

Apart from the bulky gear aspect – which was admittedly a lot – the haptics create more engagement, provided everything works as expected. If the haptics are working perfectly, then they are additive, but if you’re having trouble with them (which can happen in any prototype or early dev work) then it’s also precisely the thing that can distract you and pull you out.

Still, I find it amazing that Lowe’s – a big box home improvement store known more to me as a practical place to find a caulking gun, vegetable seeds, or an outdoor rug – is also on the cutting edge of spatial commerce. It’s also democratizing expertise, such as immersive how-to content in simulated home environments, while projecting what future retail stores will look like. I’m sure there’s no end to the creative ways to use VR in that research.

Thanks to the Lowe’s Innovation Labs team for the great demo, which you can see in full below…

AR Insider’s Editor-at-Large Emily Olman is an XR community builder, roving journalist, and CEO & Chief Media Officer of Hopscotch Interactive.

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