Made in Eastern Iowa: Virtual reality, real development in West Liberty

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WEST LIBERTY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Jens Zalzala looks around Shaking Earth Digital in West Liberty and jokes that, compared with Los Angeles, this is quite affordable.

Shaking Earth Digital, in West Liberty, operates out of a downtown building and offers software development that touches the globe.

"We would never be able to afford this space in L.A.," said Zalzala. "I have friends out there and I know what they’re paying."

This is the path Zalzala and his wife, Megan, have pursued in recent years. From Los Angeles where they lived - as Jens worked in visual effects for movies and commercials - to her hometown here in Eastern Iowa. They are the co-founders of Shaking Earth Digital.

Add in a handful of developers and here is where Shaking Earth Digital is in 2017.

"I typically say we do software development and we make apps – that people can relate to and understand but really we work with innovators around the world and they come to us with interesting and crazy ideas and ask how to do it and we do it," Zalzala said.

Jens said the development and the evolution of virtual reality is where so much of the focus is now.

"People started getting really behind that and a lot of companies started putting more efforts into developing virtual reality," Zalzala said. "Then mobile phones had a huge impact and we have these little devices with little screens and amazing computing power and everybody has one. It was a way to get virtual reality to everyone."

We had the opportunity to sample a virtual reality headset. A peaceful and serene vista, in vivid detail, abruptly ended when a virtual train runs over the user, scattering birds all over the user's field of vision. Definitely jarring. Almost real.

"I love the work and the work is what drives me," said Zalzala. "It’s always something new, something fun to explore. We don’t churn. We don’t do the same thing over and over and it’s always something new to figure out. I like creating something that’s pretty and fun to use."

Learn more about Shaking Earth Digital by visiting their website.