Sony Pictures Home Entertainment hopes to give BD Live – the feature that puts Blu-ray Disc (BD) players in touch with a web-load of online extras – a shot in the arm with the launch of movieIQ and CineChat – and one to its bottomline, as the blue-laser video platform begins to gain some traction, with US hardware sales ballooning 400 percent in first-quarter results.

MovieIQ, powered by Gracenote, offers viewers access to a movie database that is continuously updated with such information as cast and crew, trivia, facts and soundtrack linked to scenes within the title – as long as you have a movieIQ-enabled BD and an internet-connected BD player.

movieIQ will kick off in September, with a range of back-catalogue titles and new releases, including Angels & Demons, Easy Rider, Punch Drunk Love and The Quick and the Dead. MovieIQ use Gracenote's Video Explore solution to search its database.

In a statement Lexine Wong, senior executive vice president of worldwide marketing at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment said: “We know many people interrupt their movie-watching experience to look up the filmography of an actor or to find out more about a song playing in the background. Now through movieIQ, movie lovers can dive into constantly-updated information about the movie … in this always-connected age.”

Sony also used the opportunity of the movieIQ announcement to unveil its other BD Live feature, cinechat – a social networking feature that lets viewers instantly message each other, using a keyboard or mobile device, to talk about a movie they may be both watching at the same time.

The new BD Live apps coincide with good news about US BD hardware sales figures, which show the format is beginning to make some headway and find their way into lounge rooms, with latest figures showing 11 million BD devices in homes.

According to Sony Electronics’ Mike Abary, senior vice president of information technology products and personal audio, Blu-ray player sales shot up 400 percent in the first quarter of 2009, year on year, with four in five BD Live-enabled. Sony also plans to ship a 400-disc Blu-ray changer later in the year and a Wi-Fi player in July.

More than 100 Sony Pictures BD titles are available worldwide on BD Live since the technology launched in the first quarter of 2008.

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