Lowe’s Innovation Labs has partnered with aerospace company Made in Space, to become the first to launch a commercial 3D printer into space. The printer, the first permanent additive manufacturing facility for the International Space Station (ISS), will bring tools and technology to astronauts in space. Lowe’s is also 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.
The Lowe’s 3D printer is expected to arrive at the ISS in early 2016, making Lowe’s the first retailer to have a presence in space. 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.
Lowe’s Innovation Labs introduced its first proof of concept, the Lowe’s Holoroom in 2014. It 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 that combines YouTube’s 360-degree video capabilities with Google Cardboard which allows customers to enjoy and share their virtual kitchen or bathroom design whenever and wherever they choose.
“The next-generation Holoroom continues to fulfill our long-term vision for how augmented and virtual reality technologies can help customers have more confidence and more fun with home improvement,” said Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, “We can’t wait to see what our customers create as they bring their imagination to life with these new tools.”