The second part of Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror drama trilogy on Channel 4 envisioned a nightmarish future world in which people slavishly live their lives through numerous screens, spewing out hour after hour of brightly coloured yet vacuous content. Scary, huh? Or was it even scarier that you found yourself thinking: "Hmm, that actually looks pretty cool..."
Most major tech firms now believe that getting multiple displays, such as smartphones, tablets and connected TVs, to speak to each other is the way forward for connected entertainment. Microsoft is no different, and so it was unsurprising to see the announcement of Xbox SmartGlass at the E3 Expo earlier in the month.
But with Nintendo's Wii U console also coming later in the year, featuring its own connected gaming tablet, and Sony teasing more cross-functionality with PS3 and Vita, is multi-screening a smart development for videos games as entertainment, or will it prove to be just a gimmick?
Announcing SmartGlass at Microsoft's E3 press conference, Xbox Live boss Marc Whitten said that the problem with so-called smart devices is that they are "not so smart".
"When you are playing blockbuster games on the Xbox, does your phone or tablet pull you deeper into the experience?" he asked rhetorically. "When you are watching sports, is your phone smart enough to push you the latest team news, scores and stats? When you are watching your favourite TV shows, does your tablet keep up with the action and give you rich related content as the show progresses? No. But that's all about to change."
SmartGlass will launch as a free app in the autumn for Windows Phone 8 smartphones and tablets, Apple's iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, and devices running Google Android. Essentially, anyone downloading the app will be able to link up their Xbox experience with another screen, opening up new possibilities for games, movies, TV and music.
Up to four SmartGlass devices will be supported on a single Xbox, while the app can act as a full remote control and even 'throw' content from the small screen to the TV, such as watching a movie on the way home and then syncing it instantly to the big screen (only on tablet). And there is no need to buy a whizzy new TV or change your existing mobile device either.
"Xbox SmartGlass truly turns any TV into a smart TV," Whitten claimed.
Microsoft's senior director of Xbox Live Jose Pinero said that SmartGlass is about "extending your Xbox experience beyond the big screen".
He elaborated: "We know that today people are using several screens at the same time. They are watching something on TV, but they also have a tablet or laptop or something else, and they are getting additional information. But often if you want to find something, you have to do all the work.
"You have to search on the website, or go to a specific app created for a specific TV show and get things there. We think that there is a better way. We believe that the devices should make that effort for you. We should be serving that information to you so that you don't have to hunt for it."
SmartGlass provides a range of additional content and features around what is on the TV screen. Pinero demonstrated this with Game of Thrones, involving the TV viewing being complemented with a map of Westeros on the tablet screen, updating in real time using timestamp technology.
There are other applications, such as detecting which actors are on screen at any one time, and then presenting companion data, such as their best quotes and back catalogue (right down to individual scenes). It can also queue up commentaries, such as George R R Martin elaborating on Game of Thrones.
Similar technology is already available for the TV. Developed by former BBC iPlayer chief Anthony Rose and 10% owned by Sky, Zeebox is a free app on tablets and smartphones that is designed as a "virtual couch", offering web information in real time related to the programmes people are watching.
But two things possibly set SmartGlass apart as something different. First is the partnerships. The clout of Microsoft and consumer reach of Xbox Live means media firms will be falling over each other to optimise experiences for SmartGlass.
Confirmed already is Paramount Pictures, bringing second-screen content around its vast catalogue of movies. Others surely will follow, particularly in times of declining DVD sales and the ongoing bane of online piracy.
But it is the impact on games that could ultimately push SmartGlass beyond a gimmicky feature. At E3, Microsoft gave a number of examples, such as two people playing John Madden locally, but one wanting to hide their tactics from the other. So, they just switch to the SmartGlass screen and set up the play in secret.
Another concept involved Halo 4, with additional information such as schematics of enemy ships, interactive video, and maps being presented on the second screen, along with the ability to instantly queue up multiplayer matches.
Peter Orullian, Microsoft's group product manager of Xbox, discussed the example of Ascend: New Gods, an upcoming Xbox Live Arcade title from Signal Studios. The game will have something called the Ascend Oracle linked to SmartGlass. As you enter a dungeon, for example, your SmartGlass-enabled tablet or smartphone goes into "listening mode", meaning it waits, somewhat creepily, until it can help out.
"It is paying attention to what I am doing in the game," said Orullian. "As I go in, what happens is that it opens up a map of this dungeon. With SmartGlass, the advantage I have is that I can see the entire map on the second screen and there is a blue dot showing where I am and a marker where the treasure is.
"This updates in real time depending on what I am doing; so when you reach a boss, it will give you a dossier of data, meaning you can plan your attack, or just make a tactical retreat."
A baseball game called Homerun Stars will be the first full SmartGlass title, involving one person using a second screen to pitch or bat, while the other person does likewise on Xbox Kinect.
Microsoft has also confirmed the forthcoming release of an unnamed karaoke game and a Dance Central title, both with SmartGlass functionality. These games will enable the player who is not performing to actively select their next song, and use the time to prepare for when it is their turn.
There are huge applications for SmartGlass technology. Most gamers can recount frustrating moments, particularly in open world titles, of constantly having to click pause to access a map screen, only to have to repeat the process a few minutes later while still lost. But what if this information was all there on a second screen that can easily accessed at a glance?
Publishers are also increasingly launching 'companion' experiences around major games, such as Codemasters's RaceNet and Activision's Call of Duty Elite; so surely these systems could integrate with SmartGlass to enrich the experience?
This is all dependent, of course, on whether the industry really gets behind this technology and thinks that it is worth the extra effort. But initial signs appear positive.
UK games industry body TIGA feels that British studios will embrace SmartGlass as a way to "bridge the gap between smartphones, tablets and consoles". Particularly, TIGA said that Microsoft's technology, along with the Wii U, will help the mobile sector bring a "fresh approach" to console gaming.
"Many developers in the UK have turned to the production of games for tablets and smartphones due to the low barriers to entry," said Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA's chief executive.
"The costs of making the games and the ease with which they can be distributed has enabled many small studios to flourish. This has enabled companies in the UK to flex their creativity and it is heartening to see a major console manufacturer realising the role that smartphones and tablets can play in gaming."
Colin Anderson, the managing director of Scottish studio Denki, said that SmartGlass is "exactly the sort of technology" that could have added an "extra dimension" to Quarrel, the game his firm launched on Xbox Live Arcade in January.
"By enabling players to make words individually on their own devices rather than collectively on the large screen we would have been able to incorporate one of the most commonly requested additional features - a local multiplayer mode. That's something we simply couldn't do without a technology like this to enable it," he said.
"I'm really pleased to see Microsoft opening up their hardware in this way, and I'm sure there are already lots of UK developers keen to differentiate their own games by taking advantage of the creative possibilities Smartglass offers."
SmartGlass will debut as part of the Xbox 360's next dashboard update this Autumn.