ThoughtSpot, the annual Good Neighbor Pharmacy and AmerisourceBergen conference and trade show, was an energetic, enlightening, and productive event this year. Independent pharmacists, healthcare providers, vendors, and manufacturers took over the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas from July 19 to 22 to get updated on the state of their industry. New tools and methodologies to improve patient outcomes were on display, as were new ideas that will revolutionize the pharmacy business.

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Last year, Hanlon Creative was on hand to inform and amaze attendees with its “Future of Pharmacy” virtual reality (VR) experience. A fully immersive application for Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, and Facebook’s Oculus Rift. This year Hanlon was back with another cutting edge presentation that left the crowd feeling transported into the near future. A suite of custom designed augmented reality (AR) experiences had conference-goers scratching their heads with disbelief as static posters and physical products sprang magically to life.

“Within seconds of downloading the app, images leap off the page, products become experiences, and customers engage in ways manufactures never dreamed possible.”

Whereas virtual reality has the power to envelop a user in a totally fabricated world, replacing everything they see and hear with a new reality, augmented reality superimposes digitally rendered imagery over the world we already live in. A custom designed smartphone and tablet application recognizes triggers in the room and instantly and wondrously restyles them into moving, talking, interactive materials.

The ThoughtSpot crowd got its first taste of an augmented future when they directed smartphones at a welcome banner that triggered a ‘holographic’ pharmacist to materialize before their eyes and invite them to check out the numerous AR experiences on display. But more than a mere novelty, the practical applications of the tech quickly became apparent as augmented directional placards provided animated directions to specific Johnson & Johnson, BD, Chattem, and Good Neighbor Pharmacy products and brand materials armed with AR.

“Offering manufacturers the ability to talk to consumers right at the point of purchase is incredibly powerful and effective,” says Christopher Hanlon. “With over three-quarters of Americans already owning a smartphone, the barrier to AR adoption is incredibly low. Within seconds of downloading the app, images leap off the page, products become experiences, and customers engage in ways manufactures never dreamed possible.”

Hanlon Creative collaborated with Blue Visual Effects to create the Augmented Retail app, utilizing Unity, the cross platform game engine. Experiences included everything from talking owl mascots for allergy medication to spinning merry-go-rounds for children’s vitamins: all designed to bring consumers and marketers closer than ever before.