Gemma Busoni was only 14 went she went to her first hackathon. It was part of the nationwide CodeDay network of events with the workshops designed to encourage students who might not otherwise drift into technology careers. At the time, the inner-city, L.A. girl born in El Salvador was surprised to find her calling there.
"I learned to make a video game, and I got hooked," Busoni said. "I then got involved with robotics, started making games and eventually moved into virtual reality."
Things happened very quickly after that. Busoni, now 19, started a nonprofit for tech-minded city kids and is co-founder of DiscoVR Labs, an educational VR startup. She's also one of many young entrepreneurial technophiles working on a decidedly 21st century dilemma: Making virtual reality an equal playing field for men and women.
It's a problem the industry didn't quite expect: A growing body of research indicates that men and women experience virtual reality quite differently. This isn't about the recent and horrible stories of sexual harassment in VR. It's a more fundamental conundrum: It seems that women process the sensory immersion of VR in different ways than men - on a biological level. All indications are that, as a species, we're going to be spending a lot more time in VR in coming years. When one half of the population experiences VR differently than the other half, it's an issue.