Utah VR/AR : digital Hollywood?

The case for our community to focus on AR and VR technologies for economic success.




Utah has always been home to some excellent creative talent, whether film makers, videogame creators or YouTube innovators, as well as graduating increasing numbers of students every year from creative programs at our universities who go on to get great jobs at the leading entertainment companies on the planet, whether that be Google, Pixar, Activision, Electronic Arts, Microsoft etc.

What we don’t seem to have been quite so great at is building an entertainment industry here: we have had pockets of success (such as Disney Infinity which was a ~$4Bn business for Disney, created and managed right here in Utah but closed last year so the corporation could profit maximize); but where we end up is having great creative and technical talent but no sustainable entertainment industry.  No doubt that the best creatives on the planet can choose to live wherever they like – many choose Utah because of the lifestyle that is possible here: not as crowded as California or London, friendlier than New York or Montreal, closer than Singapore, Wellington or Hyderabad.

UDEN was founded after we realized that part of the problem is isolation: we’re not a community of creators helping build a sustainable eco-system, rather small pockets of people looking after themselves.  So UDEN has been holding regular meetings to bring the entertainment community together, to network, encourage collaboration, to educate and share with the goal of building a community. 

Why?  In places like Montreal and Austin, solid creative entertainment industries have sprung up in the past decade.  Each began as a community that collaborated to create high quality output, which gained commercial and critical success.  Once money started to pour in, incentives were applied to fuel the fire and economic growth occurred (current example: http://mobilesyrup.com/2017/04/06/electronic-arts-pledges-invest-500-million-montreals-game-industry-next-10-years/ - meanwhile EA is in the process of closing its Utah studio after a decade here).

One of UDEN’s proposals is that, as a means of coming together as a community and building something sustainable, we focus on VR/AR, make it our collective core competency.  The skills needed are transferable across the different sectors – if you can make a VR film, you have the technical skills you would need to make a VR game and vice-versa. By sharing the innovation and creativity, you can do both. 

But it doesn’t stop there: in the next 10 years, pretty much all industry in Utah will have some kind of VR/AR in their workflow or workplace – and these same skills are further transferable from entertainment into banking, healthcare, data visualization, training, simulation, military etc.  Film makers can bring their storytelling and visual mastery to bear; game makers their understanding of interactivity and user experience; the educational establishments collaborating with industry to create a new workforce. 

  • Most market estimations put the VR/AR market value at around $22Bn globally by 2020
  • Of that, around $15Bn will be content ($6Bn head-mounted displays, $1Bn accessories)
  • Not a bad business to be in - and we can start by servicing the existing 'Silicon Slopes' tech firms in our back yard


Crazy?  No, it’s entirely possible if we’re prepared to work at it – Utah the new 'digital Hollywood'; a world-class entertainment hub specializing in interactive entertainment in Utah precisely because of what we have here today, one that fuels economic growth across the state, not just in entertainment. One thing is for sure: nothing will change unless we try to change!  UDEN is holding the party and we’re inviting anyone who wants to come along.


  • Research firm Tractica anticipates that combined revenue for head-mounted displays (HMDs), VR accessories, and VR content will increase to $21.8 billion worldwide by 2020, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 142%
  • As adoption begins to  reach a critical mass, the market intelligence firm forecasts that the industry’s revenue mix will quickly shift from hardware sales to content
  • Content sales will represent more than one-third of total VR revenue by 2017, and will quickly grow to nearly two-thirds of all VR revenue by 2020
  • The market intelligence firm forecasts that the highest-potential application markets are virtual prototyping, 3D modeling, training, and simulation.  Other key markets will include medical, academia, research & development, and marketing and advertising


Ref: https://www.tractica.com/newsroom/press-releases/consumer-virtual-reality-hardware-and-content-revenue-to-reach-21-8-billion-by-2020/



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