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Thanks to Google Tango and Virtual Reality, You Can Now Find Items on Your Shopping List Faster

March 17th, 2017 by

Consider this: you have a shopping list on one hand and you’re pushing your shopping cart with the other. The store is pretty crowded and you don’t have the time to stop by at every aisle to see if it has the items on your list. We’ve all been there; it’s a nightmare. What if there was an app that told you where the items on your list are located? Well, retailer Lowe’s is doing just that. They’re testing out a new augmented reality-app with the help of Google Tango.

Google Tango

Google TangoA mapping tool for indoors, Tango’s technology uses cameras to estimate depth in a 3D space. For instance, it can measure the distance between objects in a room, map them, and let you see objects in augmented reality. Sounds a bit like the future? Well, it sure is.

What the Lowe’s app does

In some stores in Canada, Lowe’s is testing out the app powered by Google Tango. The will help you find items on your list in the fastest possible way. When you hold your phone in front of you, you’ll see a yellow line on the screen guiding you to the next item on your grocery list. The screen also shows the aisle and shelf numbers to make things more evident. And what’s more, you can also see an estimated step counter to tell you how far you have to go to reach the next item on the list. Once you reach the end of your list, the app will automatically guide you to the nearest billing counter.

Google Tango in Lowe's app

The catch

The app isn’t for every phone out there. Currently, the app works only on  Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. However, there are plenty more Tango-enabled devices set to launch later in the year.

In the meantime…

You can head out to a Lowe’s store and borrow a device they have there. The company will officially launch it in April in two places in the US: California’s Sunnywale and Washington’s Lynnwood. More stores will add the app, but it’s a difficult process since the app uses currently existing  maps and aisles in each store.

Bigger ambitions

Apart from helping customers find the items they’re looking for, Lowe’s also testing out a guided walkthrough to help its customers handle DIY projects. For instance, the app will guide you through re-tiling your bathroom or repainting your bedroom. You just need a HTC Vive headset and controllers and you can re-wire your entire (or parts of it at least) home with the help of virtual reality. Now that’s a future I look forward to. It’s currently available in Framingham, Massachusetts, as well as two other stores in Canada.

Outside the store

The technology behind the app, Tango, extends beyond supermarkets. The Detroit Institute of Arts already uses the technology to help visitors efficiently learn more about the exhibits.


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