This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

August 13, 2014

Using Science Fiction to Innovate

For years, science fiction writers have been forecasting the future, by inventing products that have become integral parts of our lives. From Dick Tracy 2-Way Wrist Radio to Star Trek's replicators, we have seen products from books, television, and movies, like smart phone watches and 3-D printers become mainstream. (For more about how this technology is revolutionizing our world, see next week's Alert.)

Recently, Lowe's, the home improvement retailer, decided to underscore its commitment to advancing retail innovation; it introduced Lowe's Innovation Labs. Lowe's is working with science fiction writers to inspire innovation.

The first concept to come out of the lab is the Lowe's Holoroom. Reminiscent of Star TrekÕs Holodeck virtual reality simulator, it helps shoppers visualize home improvement projects and share that vision with family and friends. "The Lowe's Holoroom is a home improvement simulator which applies 3-D and augmented reality technologies to provide homeowners an intuitive, immersive experience in the room of their dreams."

Customers begin by choosing their preferred products before viewing and experiencing those products in the Holoroom. While in the Holoroom, they can make changes to the room design or finalize their plan with confidence. A take-home printout allows customers to view a 3-D model of their room at home, and share the model with family and friends, by downloading a free smart phone app.

The intention is to position Lowe's as an innovation leader "by developing disruptive technologies that will help them establish a long-term competitive advantage". The Innovation Lab facilitates the company's rapid embrace of new technologies and partners, helps them "explore a wide range of possibilities, and identifies opportunities to develop concepts like the Holoroom".

Starting this year in Toronto, customers will be able to use this innovative technology in stores. Ultimately, the company plans to have a Holoroom in every store. SciFutures, a foresight and innovation consultancy, partnered with LoweÕs during the development of the Holoroom.

In the future, we will see more corporations collaborating with consultants like SciFutures and Ideo to create new and improved products and services that will offer convenience, economy, and efficiency while enhancing consumers' experiences. (See a subsequent Trend Alert to read about how sensory experiences are being used to effectively brand products.)

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