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Could MetaMirror reflect future of interactive TV?

Concept software platform would overlay real-time contextual data on a secondary device--such as an iPad--that also displays your television show, keeping the main TV screen free of extra clutter.

Real-time game stats, together with Twitter updates and other sports scores, are overlayed on the device running MetaMirror. Notion

Like to get instant player stats and trivia while watching TV sports matches? MetaMirror, a concept software platform out of Ireland, would overlay such data on a secondary device, keeping your television screen free of extra clutter while you watch the big game.

The product would display real-time contextual content over a "mirror" of the television broadcast that simultaneously plays on an iPad, iPhone, Netbook, or other gadget. That might make for some visual cacophony at touchdown time, but Dublin design firm Notion, which came up with the idea, insists that it's a seamless way to connect Web and television experiences, which are becoming increasingly entwined, and make TV more like the interactive devices to which we are all becoming accustomed.

"By bringing together live television, real-time contextual information, and an intuitive user interface, Meta Mirror is positioned to update television from unidirectional broadcast to two-way interaction," Notion says.

It envisions several models for doing this:

For sports events, that giant flat-screen on the wall would be dedicated to the game, leaving the device running MetaMirror to show real-time game info, Twitter updates, and other sports scores, which come in via XML feeds. New forms of online betting (uh-oh)/merchandising/purchasing could also be enabled.

Direct links to iTunes, Ticketmaster, Wikipedia, and music Web sites could allow viewers to delve further into the music onscreen (click to enlarge). Notion

Music broadcasts could be enriched by track names, album details, and artist information, while direct links to iTunes, Ticketmaster, Wikipedia, and music Web sites could enable viewers to delve further into the music.

For lifestyle shows, meanwhile, onscreen objects--that seersucker swatch recommended by Martha Stewart, say--could become clickable and tied in with third-party shopping plug-ins for easy online buying from the couch.

The MetaMirror concept does raise a question that popped up as soon as we first got sight of Google TV, a technology that will be built into TVs, set-top boxes, Blu-ray players, and other devices to enable people to search the Web, watch full-screen YouTube videos, find shows on Hulu, and otherwise multitask: why is this better than just sitting in front of a TV and browsing the Web on a laptop or iPad?

We'll have to wait to test this product when and if it comes out (Notion is now looking for a partner to help build functioning prototypes, says creative director Ian Walton), but at first glance, the overlay feature could offer a cool way to let viewers shift their eyes from primary device to secondary device without losing sight of their favorite program. It could make for a more smooth interactive-TV experience. And it could give antisocial tube watchers an easy way to ignore their living-room compatriots.