With its uninspiring name and acronyms aplenty you may be surprised to discover that Project Canvas could one day be seen as a pivotal event for television not just in the UK but across the planet.

If BBC Trust finally gives its approval for Project Canvas, it could lead to a whole new platform that brings the enticing worlds of video on demand, web widgets and myriad yet-to-be-thought-of tools to our living rooms.

TechRadar has sat through several BBC presentations on Project Canvas in the last six months so you don't have too, and we've gone through our notebooks to bring you the clearest statements about Project Canvas; explaining what it is, why it's being discussed now, who's for it, who's against it and when and how it's likely to arrive in our living rooms.

What IS Project Canvas?

"It's a simple subscription-free television service that converges… broadcast with broadband," the BBC's Head of Technology Eric Huggers told the recent Intellect Consumer Electronics conference.

In a little more detail, Project Canvas is the BBC's attempt to unify the industry behind a single IPTV platform, giving a set of standards, but also, more controversially, a brand and control of the user experience so that we can get internet-connected functionality alongside our traditional television experience – straight into our living rooms.

Too complicated? How about this: It's Freeview/Freesat plus iPlayer for multiple channels plus a little YouTube and Facebook all thrown into the mix.

As the BBC's promotional Canvas film puts it: "Wouldn't it be nice if someone could combine the plug and go simplicity of Freeview with the choice and convenience of iPlayer all packaged in one simple easy to use service?

"Well Canvas will do just that; just plug it into your telly and into your broadband and away you go. You're ready to discover a whole new world of digital TV packed with new features, new content and new ways to watch – it's a TV revolution."