The Evolution of the Waiting Room

What is more exciting than doing nothing? It’s safe to say, just about anything. Obviously, if you’ve had an eventful day, relaxing is pretty enjoyable, but what if you’re stuck waiting on someone, and you have nothing to do. Pretty boring, right? This is exactly why the waiting room has benefitted tremendously from technology.

Remember walking in 15 minutes before that appointment, checking in, and then scanning the waiting room seeing headlines like “John and Kate plus 8 divided by 2” or “Balloon Boy flies across the Midwest”, or any other ridiculous headline plastered on countless magazines. What about the fish tank with all the fish on one half of the tank, trying to get away from the 7 year old tapping on the glass? How about the multi-colored metal table sized jungle gym looking thing where you bring the beads from one side to the other? Pretty exciting stuff, if you ask me.

TV has been in the waiting room for years, but a lot of the time, it was always showing the news with incredibly delayed subtitles or it was on a soap opera for some reason. Not really sure why those seemed to be the only two options. Although, I have a sneaking suspicion it was just because no one ever changed the channel.

Then Y2K happened and all technology failed us. Wait, never mind, we’ve only advanced since then, with things like the countless Gameboys that came out during the 2000’s or the PlayStation Portable. Even the cell phone was starting to help kill time with taking care of emails, texts, or playing Snake or Tetris. Once the Smart Phone hit the market, the fish grabbed the magazines and stormed out of the waiting room (not really, but I don’t think they were replaced after their lifespan had completed) and the fish tanks were sent to the basement to be repurposed for spiders.

The modern waiting room can still be relatively basic, a few chairs, a coffee maker, maybe a TV with a slideshow or the news playing, but others have embraced technology with open arms. I’m sure you’ve been in a waiting room and asked what the WiFi password is a few different times. It’s almost expected these days. You might have an internal argument with the receptionist if they come back with, “Sorry, we don’t have WiFi”.

It doesn’t stop there. I’ve seen things like PlayStation or Xbox 360s built into arcade like machines. I’ve seen an actual Golden Tee arcade machine and a two player Pac-Man table. Most TVs are Smart TVs and have the ability to watch Netflix or Hulu. It’s insane how entertained we are in the waiting room now. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I know I for one am forever thankful for the ability to “get in line” for the Secretary of State from the website instead of having to spend my whole day sitting in the worst waiting room of them all. A waiting room is a waiting room, but technology is helping reduce the wait or at least make it a little more enjoyable.

The thing that has wowed me the most out of all of the advancements is definitely the new interactive floor projectors that hang from the ceiling and shine down on a designated area in the waiting room. I had never seen one until this last fall, and it’s probably the coolest thing I’ve seen in a waiting room to this day. The kids literally get to play virtual games like whack-a-mole, where they run around and stomp on the mole, and the sensor on the projector picks up the movement of the child and responds accordingly. It cycles through several games like soccer, basketball, etc. to keep the kiddos entertained for the duration of the wait. It was insane to see it in action. I never dreamed of anything like that when I was young.

Currently, there are very few active waiting rooms due to social distancing, and yet technology is still paving the way for the modern waiting room. The virtual appointment is literally saving lives right now. Without technology, we would be in a world of hurt right now trying to take care of people who are suffering from day to day ailments and still need medical attention/advice. It’s times like this that we can be thankful for technology and use it to enhance the quality of our lives, and not just through entertainment.

Click the link to see the Interactive Floor Projector in action.


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