To kick off, I would love to start with an experience that already has drool dripping on my shirt, or rather, a paper bib. You guessed it: it’s America’s second favorite pastime, visiting your friendly neighborhood DDS or dental professional. The experience begins in your living room, the moment an automated voice calls your home phone (yes, the one solely reserved for telemarketers) and reminds you of your inconveniently scheduled appointment in vivid stereo audio. Screen fades to black. Now, imagine yourself in a pastel waiting room with 1998’s finest art hanging on every dreary wall. The receptionist clacks away on a keyboard as the incredibly realistic hum and bubble of a sparsely populated fish tank plunges you in this most virtual of realities.
You reach for one of the magazines you would never dream of subscribing to on the side table to your right – the pages crinkled almost like dozens have turned those very pages before. You thumb through the pictures of holiday roast recipes despite it being early August. That’s when your full birth name is called. “How strange to hear my full name being called as I’ve gone by a nickname for most of my life,” you think. That’s when the real fun begins.
As you are guided back to the dentist’s chair, your heart flutters with jubilant anticipation of having someone scrape your teeth with a metal hook. Then, there you are, in the most stunning 1080p staring at slightly textured ceiling panels while an unforgiving florescent light bathes your eyes in its unnatural glow. This portion of the experience has no set time limit – which is the thrilling part. It’s just you, the ceiling, and the scraping noises. Occasionally, the dentist will ask you open-ended questions about your personal life or work, to which you play along and give your best answers with the back of your throat while your mouth hangs agape.
After dozens of thrilling minutes the dentist murmurs something about flossing more and just like that, you visit is over. You’re handed a lifelike bag with a new toothbrush in it and you are on your way. The picture within the Oculus slowly fades to black and the credits roll. You sigh and realize your first encounter with the most realistic virtual reality is over already.
But seriously. You do need to floss more.