Look Down. Now Look Up. Look Down. Now Look Up.

Companies are trying to figure out the “second screen,” whether it’s the entertainment and marketing worlds trying to get involved in how people use tablets while watching television or the business world optimizing the relationship between various devices in a cutting-edge sales pitch.

At movie theaters, second screens are generally frowned upon, at least today. However, Dutch filmmaker Bobby Boermans’s new horror movie App encourages phone use for a richer movie-watching experience.

The storyline centers on a woman deep in the digital life who starts receiving cryptic codes through one of her apps. Throughout the movie, people in the theater that have downloaded the movie app start receiving cues to access deeper information about the particular scene that’s on, none of which is integral to the movie, but which does add levels of interest. According to PSFK:

The movie uses digital watermarking, connecting to the phone’s speaker, to send synced content to the smartphones. Using the app is not necessary to enjoy the film, Robin de Levita, chief creative officer of Imagine Nation (creators of the company 2CFilm that produce App) says:

The movie works perfectly without the second screen. It’s a well paced thriller, but there are 35 moments in the movie when you can get additional information or content that will enrich the experience. For example, there could be two people in a room with a bomb ticking, only they don’t know about it. On the second screen, the audience would know how much time is remaining.

Of course, this idea has impacts on the future of filmmaking (creating story structures that incorporate space to check a mobile device without missing important moments on the main screen, dividing theaters between those who like the interactivity and those who consider it a distraction, etc.).

But even grander, this is just a tiny fraction of a larger issue. As people start owning and interacting with multiple devices and, even further, as every object becomes a device (cars, appliances, clothing), we’ll all be trying to both make sense of and take fullest advantage of a screened-in world. In that world, all content and information is vying for our attentions on a way variety of devices that each have their own benefits and detriments regarding content form.

How we manage this world will be entirely dependent on how these screens work together, whether we’re communicating with our family, friends, and colleagues…or just watching a movie.