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Universal Studios transforms iPhones into remote controls

Universal Studios Home Entertainment is turning Apple's iPhone into a remote control, allowing consumers to control content on their Internet- and Wi-Fi-connected Blu-ray players via their handset.

The company will deliver an array of iPhone and iPod touch-enabled features on its upcoming Blu-ray releases. This functionality will launch in Apple's App Store on July 28, coinciding with the 2-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray release of the box-office smash Fast & Furious.

"This move takes Blu-ray to an unprecedented new level, creating additional compelling and user-friendly interactive experiences for home entertainment consumers and integrating them with an already widely embraced mobile technology," said Lea Porteneuve, senior vice president of communications and publicity at Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment is a unit of Universal Pictures, which is a division of Universal Studios. Universal Studios is a part of NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies

Blu-ray is a next-generation optical disc format developed to enable recording, rewriting and playback of high-definition (HD) video, as well as storing large amounts of data. The format offers more than five times the storage capacity of traditional DVDs and can hold up to 25 GB on a single-layer disc and 50 GB on a dual-layer disc.

Later this year on select Universal releases, consumers will also be able to access bonus content found on their Blu-ray disc and download it into their iPhone or iPod touch to watch features on-the-go, use the devices as a virtual remote to control their Blu-ray disc features and access additional detailed information about the film and its cast while watching the movie.

Releases will also integrate with social networking applications and sites such as Facebook and Twitter to let users update their friends about movie-related activities.

Powered by BD-Live, the 2-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray release of Fast & Furious will use the new technology tied to its "Virtual Car Garage" bonus feature.

With iPhone or iPod touch in hand, Blu-ray viewers can use their devices' touch screens to control 360-degree views of the movie's supercharged street-racers and instantly punch up exclusive technical specs for the film's high-tech cars.

The app will be available for free from Apple's App Store or at http://www.itunes.com/appstore.

"This announcement underscores the promise of Blu-ray (through BD-Live) and its potential," Ms. Porteneuve said. "The pairing of BD-Live and iPhone/iPod touch on the Fast & Furious Blu-ray is part of a larger strategy by Universal to further capitalize on the opportunity to deliver to consumers engaging, interactive experiences unlike any other in the home entertainment arena."