I’m standing in the middle of the woods. It’s dark. Very dark. There’s sand under my feet, and a path in the distance, winding between a row of tall, branchless trees. Their trunks stretch higher and higher until they disappear into the night sky, dotted with stars that, eerily, cast no light on the ground below. A glimmer of something beckons from around the twisting path. As I walk, a clearing appears, where a perfectly circular pond lies in front of a massive stone statue of a sitting monk, keeping watch as the water swirls, galaxy-like, at its feet. A few steps further, the tree line breaks, and I’m greeted by three starburst-shaped figures, hovering in midair on a caramel-colored cliff, teetering on the edge of outer space.
We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore.
No, this isn’t a fever dream. I’m taking a test drive of Virgils, one of the latest virtual reality (VR) programs to hit the market. I’m comfortably seated in my living room behind a computer screen. My guides, Virgils cofounders Christian Ulstrup, Beko Jang, and Monet Goldman—digitally represented by those starburst figures—are likewise seated behind theirs, thousands of miles away.
Virtual reality conjures up all sorts of associations. Video games. Headsets. Tron-like…