HD movie fans will be able to convert their collections to digital for watching anywhere using the Ultraviolet personal film library later this year.
UltraViolet lets you watch your purchased films and TV shows through a cloud-based library that can be accessed by up to six people on TVs, phones, tablets and PCs using a variety of vendors.
The service launched in the UK and USA in late 2011, with British titles including Final Destination 5, Safe House and 21 Jump Street.
Mega-retailer Walmart, owner of ASDA supermarkets, allows its US customers to bring in their DVD and Blu-ray collections for conversion to digital under the ‘disc to digital’ initiative.
Tim Wright, vice president of worldwide new media and technology for Sony Pictures Entertainment, said disc-to-digital will arrive in the UK by the end of this year.
He told the Intellect Future of Entertainment 2012 conference: "We have several retailers who have committed to launch UltraViolet services in the UK and I look forward to seeing those later this year."
Hollywood studios and TV producers hope Ultraviolet will reduce illegal downloads by giving entire families and even best friends access to their video collections across digital devices, and the service claims to have more than a million accounts in the US and UK.
Gerald Hensley, vice president of worldwide entertainment at Rovi Corp added:
“It’s going to be more about your purchase history, and there will be some in-home solutions from people like Rovi, and from retailers like Amazon and Sainsbury’s. By the end of this year you'll see what UltraViolet looks like with retailers behind it.
"Don’t think of disc-to-digital as just a physical thing with people bringing boxes of DVDs to the supermarket in their cars, because we don’t really have that in the UK.
"The US experience of disc-to-digital will resonate very strongly in the UK. It's about getting your collection into the cloud and converting it into your digital collection. UltraViolet creates a platform for innovation and our partners are planning some phenomenal things once consumers are confident that their content is available online.”
Sony Music Unlimited, which has already launched in the UK, follows a similar approach by creating a virtual cloud-based mirror of your MP3 collection.
UltraViolet is the public face of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) consortium, which includes film studios, retailers, consumer electronics manufacturers, cable companies, ISPs, network-hosting vendors, and other Internet systems and security vendors.
In the UK, high profile members include Tesco, which owns the Blinkbox movie rental and ownership service.
Blinkbox and Tesco have partnered on some deals where shoppers who bought the disc could own a digital copy, but they’ve been independent of UltraViolet. Blinkbox isn’t listed among UltraViolet’s partners, although Tesco Entertainment is there.
Other familiar names on the UltraViolet roll-call include BBC Worldwide, Best Buy, Blockbuster, Dell, Flixster, Fox Entertainment, HMV, Huawei, IBM. Intel, LG, Lionsgate, Lovefilm, Microsoft, Motorola, NBC Universal, Nokia, Panasonic, Paramount, Philips, Samsung, Sky, Toshiba and Warner Bros.
Ultimately it's down to its army of partners as to exactly when we can start creating cloud-based copies of our movie purchases. But it's Sony's hopes that 2012 is the year when UltraViolet beams down in the UK.
Updated on 25/06/12: Originally a quote from Gerald Hensley had been misattributed to Tim Wright. This has been amended.