Visit from California at our VR research exploration workshop

Today, at our iScience Virtual Reality research exploration workshop, we had a visit of friends from California: Jen Mulcaster, Abby Porter and Ken Porter. Ken is a Palo Alto native, Berliner, and long term Silicon Valley insider; Jen was the former Netscape international manager and is an Apple fan today. Abby Porter is 15 years old and goes to school. They are living in Mountain View, California. Take a look at the impressions of our whole iScience team discovering new software at our VR workshop and find out in the interview with Jen, Abby, and Ken about the things that changed in Silicon Valley during the past ten years.


Hello, nice to have you here! Is it your first visit to Konstanz? What are your first impressions of Konstanz?

Jen: Yes, this is my first visit. So my impression is that it’s beautiful and very green. It’s a lovely town.

Ken: Yes, my first visit. It seems very bike-friendly! I noticed many bike paths.

What do you think, what‘s the most significant difference between California and Southern Germany?

Jen: Well, we haven’t been here very long. It’s only been a day, not even. Almost a day. So I don’t have a great amount of data for assessment. But I think, for one thing, it’s hot! The lake is very nice; we went swimming yesterday. It was beautiful! People are relaxed and enjoying themselves, and it feels like summer. Also, very casual, California sometimes can be a little bit faster-paced, where we are from.

Ken: The pace of life seems a lot faster in Silicon Valley versus here. Just on the surface. That’s a big difference.

What did change in Silicon Valley in the past decade?

Jen: Wow, so much. A lot! More traffic, more people interested in working long hours. But the curiosity is always still there, the interest in technology, everyone is doing their best to create the best ideas. Everything just a little more competitive than it was ten years ago.

Ken: I think the pace has gotten faster. There is also the social-economic differences; there is a more significant gap between lower-income and higher income. That gap has gotten wider in the last ten years. People in service-related jobs, it’s difficult for them to find a living space for them in the area. Ten years ago, it was easier.

Jen: Yeah, the cost of living – both rent and buying home – has doubled. In ten years! Also, a difference, we have more ethnic diversity in California than here!

Is this your first time using VR applications? 

Ken: No, but my VR experiences are limited. Mostly to using those cardboard “goggles” designed for use with iPhones.

Abby: I have used VR a few times before, when I was 12 we used it in school to do a virtual heart dissection, and my friend has a VR video game at his house that I’ve used. I think VR is an incredible tool that can be applied in so many ways. It’s a very useful resource that allows you to immerse yourself in an alternate reality, it’s amazing.

What do you think about VR?

Ken: I think it’s great! I think there’s a great opportunity to use VR for educational and training purposes as well as fun. One concern is with violence in VR video games. I believe this is something, overtime, that can impact people’s behavior in a negative way. Our world is already a violent place, we don’t need applications that continue to reinforce and expand violence in societies.

What do you expect from VR and digital applications in general for the future?

Ken: I don’t really know what to expect in the future, I suspect the graphics and experiences will continue to become more and more realistic.

Abby: I think that I expect to see more VR in everyday life, I’ve already used it a few times, but I think that as it develops and technology becomes more affordable, it will be easier to spread VR technology throughout our world.

Do you see any advantages of VR when it comes to research?

Ken: I see tremendous advantages in research. One example might be around understanding how people interact with others from different backgrounds, cultures and races. Imagine police using VR to learn and improve their ability to deal with complex interactions in dangerous situations. I think VR could be used to improve the outcomes of many of these situations.

Who would win a fight between Spiderman and Batman?

Jen: Spiderman.
Ken: Spiderman.

Do you put the ketchup on the fries or next to the fries?

Jen: Next to the fries.
Ken: Next to the fries.

Ketchup, mayonnaise, or both?

Jen: Ketchup.
Ken: Both.


Thanks so much for visiting us! 🙂