Google Tango bringing indoor AR mapping to 400 Lowe's stores

Finding things at the shops could be a breeze with augmented reality and indoor mapping, or so Lowe's and Google hope.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
2 min read

On-screen directions show you where the paint is when you hold up your phone. And how to get there. Maybe, even, remember where you shopped last. Lowe's hardware stores have already been experimenting with indoor mapping via Google Tango, and now 400 stores will be indoor-mapped in the future.

Google Tango is a camera for phones that adds advanced augmented reality , but its real killer app is indoor mapping. At Google's I/O developer conference, a new Visual Positioning Service beta was announced that will accurately map indoor places into persistent 3D maps, no Wi-Fi or GPS required.

Watch this: Google Tango will change how you shop

A few museums like Detroit's Institute for the Arts are already experimenting with advanced indoor mapping and augmented reality exhibits, interacting with virtual diagrams alongside the real artifacts. Lowe's stores will focus on helping shoppers get to what they're looking for faster.

VPS could eventually be a way to assist in any indoor space and help give directions at public places, underground, or anywhere else. Lowe's stores might be one of the biggest testbeds yet for trying it in a live public setting.

Currently, a few Lowe's stores already using this mapping technology can let shoppers borrow a Tango phone to try the service -- which is necessary, since only two phones (the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, and the upcoming Asus Zenphone AR) can take advantage of the in-store augmented mapping.

But, considering Lowe's stores sell Tango-enabled phones like the Phab 2 Pro , it's not a bad way to do an in-store demo of what Tango can do.

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