Apple’s ‘Transparent Texting’ Patent Aims to Prevent Texting While Walking Wipeouts
Most people who own a mobile phone have been guilty of trying to text and walk at the same time and the unfortunate accidents that can result from this multitasking behavior can be been seen in numerous viral videos. Although no smartphone maker recommends that users try to walk and text at the same time, a recently filed Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) patent application uncovered by Apple Insider described a technology that could make it less likely that users who attempt to walk and text simultaneously will run into people or things in front of them. As noted by Apple, “it is common, even if not entirely safe, for a mobile device user to engage in a text messaging session while [they are] concurrently walking.”
In a patent titled, “Transparent Texting,” Apple outlined a text messaging system that would use the iPhone’s rear camera to continuously display video images of what is immediately in front of the user. The video images would be displayed as the background of the text messaging session, allowing the iPhone’s screen to function as a transparent window. “Consequently, the device’s user is less likely to collide with or stumble over an object while participating in a text messaging session,” stated Apple.
As seen in the image above obtained from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the text bubbles in the text messaging session would be overlaid on a continuously updated background image of what was being captured by the iPhone’s rear camera. In one embodiment, the text bubbles would appear partially transparent, rather than opaque, to further boost visibility of the background images. According to Apple, the “transparent texting” option and the option to make the text bubbles partially transparent would be activated “in response to detecting a selection of a user interface element.”
This invention could even be useful to users who are texting while standing still. As noted by Apple, “Even if a user remains stationary while participating in a text messaging session, that user may expose himself to some amount of danger or potential embarrassment if he is so engaged in his device’s display that he becomes oblivious to changes in his surrounding environment.”
Although Apple’s invention appears to be primarily intended for text messaging applications, the iPhone maker noted that the transparent background concept could also be extended to other applications. Apple noted that the same technology could also be used for the Safari Internet browser, the iBooks digital book reader app, or any other “computer-executable application in which text is presented over a background.”
Although it is unknown if Apple has any near-term plans to implement this technology, it should be noted that iOS 7 already includes many transparent, or semi-transparent, elements in its user interface. In this sense, the technology outlined in the “Transparent Texting” patent application would mesh nicely with Apple’s current iOS design.
Follow Nathanael on Twitter (@ArnoldEtan_WSCS)