Blu-Ray Direct Control Coming to iPhone and iPod Touch


The stars must be in alignment, because I only just finished watching “2 Fast, 2 Furious” this past weekend (yes, boredom can make you do terrible things) and now it’s been revealed that the follow-up, “Fast & Furious,” will boast some innovative new features when it hits Blu-ray July 28. Universal has just announced that the Special Edition Blu-ray release of the Vin Diesel/Paul Walker car film will ship with an iPhone (s aapl) app that interacts with the disc media.

It’s an intriguing use of both an iPhone application and BDLive capabilities, which, on compatible Blu-ray players, allow the disc media to connect with a viewer’s Wi-Fi network in order to download content, connect directly with other users, and so on. So far, I’ve yet to use the BDLive features on any of the Blu-ray movies I own, since they seem largely to be silly bells and whistles included just for the sake of increasing the value proposition of the disc-based media.

While I’m not actually much of a “Fast & Furious” franchise fan, despite (or because of) my weekend viewing, I do want to get my hands on a copy of this new special edition to see just how the iPhone integration is executed. So far, all that’s clear from Universal’s release on the subject is that the iPhone app will be able to control a special feature that allows viewers to view and interact with different cars from the movie in a virtual garage. The app will be released free via the App Store for Special Edition owners to download.

I’m hoping they don’t stop there, since it would probably be a simple next step to include playback controls in the very same app. Even without that, though, this could represent a turning point for special features and movie tie-in apps alike, both of which right now seem like weak promotional tools that are generally a waste of time for viewers and developers alike.

Poking about at a virtual car may not seem like a revolutionary new way of interacting with media, but it is a surprisingly well thought-out special feature, given the context: “Fast & Furious” fans are often car enthusiasts, and will care about what’s under the hood of the vehicles that make an appearance in the film. And controlling virtual models of automobiles on screen via a touchscreen device isn’t gimmicky, it’s just the most intuitive way for that sort of thing to work.

This time around, I might not actually go out and buy the movie, because, seriously, it’s “Fast & Furious”. But release a “Star Wars” (original trilogy) Blu-ray Special Edition with the exact same features for starships, speeders, and ground assault vehicles, and money will be no object.