Hanlon Creative presented “The Future of Pharmacy,” a newly developed virtual reality experience to audiences at ThoughtSpot 2016, the annual Good Neighbor Pharmacy trade show, which took place July 27–30 in Las Vegas.

Developed in partnership with Blue Visual Effects, the cutting-edge app transported attendees from the birth of the American pharmacy industry to the present day, and into a gleaming, sci-fi depiction of the pharmacy of tomorrow.

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Historical reenactments were shot on location at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, the preserved apothecary shop of Louis J. Dufilho, America’s first licensed pharmacist. Twenty Samsung Gear VR headsets and three larger Oculus Rift installations were utilized to share the adventure.

Attendees took a five-minute journey that began in 1823 with Dufilho himself preparing medications for his patients. The perspective then shifts to an interactive timeline of pharmacy history, as images of landmark moments zoom around the viewer.

The experience concludes by warping viewers into a fully rendered holographic vision of Good Neighbor Pharmacy some 200 years into the future, where patients enjoy attentive care from a helpful pharmacist amid a user-friendly room of interactive healthcare tools. “The virtual reality experience turns mind-blowing new media technology into a unique marketing opportunity,” said Hanlon Creative co-founder Christopher Hanlon.

“Now we’re able to help a brand like Good Neighbor Pharmacy offer an unforgettable sneak peek to their customers of how their solutions will evolve and shape a truly amazing customer experience of tomorrow.”

Blue Visual Effects, located in Philadelphia’s Art Museum neighborhood, is a broadcast design house specializing in virtual and augmented reality (AR), projection mapping, and other production technologies on the vanguard of innovation today. A boutique firm with its own unique and contemporary style, it is a design problem solver and early adopter of AR, developing projects for both the U.S. National Guard and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

For “The Future of Pharmacy” they worked with Hanlon Creative to stitch together high resolution stills of the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum into a 360-degree world built with Cinema 4D and deployed in the Unreal 4 game engine.

Live actors in period clothing were shot with matching lenses on their green screen studio in Philadelphia and seamlessly inserted into the virtual environment. Their partnership with Hanlon Creative also included dreaming up the hyper-advanced pharmacy of tomorrow and bringing it virtually to life in a marriage of high concept and stunning visuals.

Blue Visual Effects Creative Director Howard McCabe said it was the perfect venue to test the boundaries of VR technology:

“It’s my job to show people new opportunities, to take chances, to lead them forward. I want to break new ground, not just react to changes in our industry.”

Where others may have been reluctant to sail into the uncharted waters of still emerging technologies, both Blue Visual Effects and Hanlon Creative understood implicitly that the narrative potential of VR was too important to stay on the sidelines.

“Immersive virtual reality experiences allow brands to connect with audiences on a whole new level. The ability to give someone a sneak peak into the future of their industry is an incredibly powerful marketing tool,” said Christopher Hanlon.

“We’ve been developing AR and VR for over 5 years now and this was one of the few times an agency partner ‘got it’ right away,” said McCabe. “From that point forward we all talked, ideated, brainstormed and came up with an experience that we feel was perfect for the audience. Plus we had a great time pushing the envelop of production and post to make this experience a reality.”