Apple knows the addiction of texting and understands the dangers it can pose, especially if a smartphone user is outdoors and walking. Therefore, Apple has planned to create walking-friendly phones, which will enable smartphone users to watch where they are going while texting. A patent for Transparent Texting, as it has been called, has already been filed by the firm.
According to an OhioState research of last year, emergency room treatments of pedestrians’ resulting from mobile-phone related injuries doubled from 2005 to 2010. An alarming 69 percent were due to talking on the phone while walking, whereas nine percent of the injuries were due to texting while walking.
Meanwhile, even before this study was conducted, Apple had realized the dangers of texting while walking and it had come up with an idea to create walking-friendly phones with the technology of transparent texting.
Therefore, somewhere in 2012, Apple invented such a technology, where the rear end camera of a smart device can display images on the texting screen and eventually be able to save many users from undesirable injuries. Accordingly, a patent was filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office in September 2012, but was only learnt about this week.
Apple, in its patent application 20140085334 tited Transparent Texting, said that it “has found an innovative way to use an electronic communication device’s camera,” where images of the surrounding area can be continuously captured and presented as a video within a text-messaging session.
The application highlighted the fact that “due to the visual nature of a text messaging session” it is often difficult for a person who is texting to be able to equally divide his or her attention equally between the device and the surroundings. Therefore, due to divided attention and the lack of focus on the path being walked upon, such a user can “inadvertently collide with or stumble over objects in his path,” the patent application further said.
Apple has been very thoughtful about the user in their patent for transparent texting and covered a large ground of concern. The application mentioned that even if a user was stationary while texting, they can sometimes become “oblivious to changes” in their surrounding environment, which can either pose danger for them or lead to some embarrassment.
To all these issues, transparent texting can be the solution, Apple said. According to the new technology, an app’s background can be changed to project live images onto the screen from the rear end camera of a device. This would enable smart device users to see any obstacles they may encounter. This technology can also be used on any smart device that allows for texting.
In the patent designs offered by the firm to the US Patent and Trademark Office, an iMessage chat background had been replaced by video. The text bubbles have been made either semi-opaque or opaque. A line drawing demonstrating an iMessage exchange about a scary cow with a tree displayed on the background screen illustrates the patent. The tree is seen to be larger as the messaging process proceeds, altering the phone user that a tree might hit him or her, (thereby, avoiding a mishap that would have happened if the user had not been altered via the message screen background.)
Stephen Ward has been credited as the inventor of this technology, which can be activated through an in-app button. The use of this technology does not end at iMessages. It can also be adapted for use while surfing web browsers or reading iBooks – the text can be made to float over live video images background.
It is not known when exactly Apple would create these walking-friendly, transparent texting phones or when they would be available for Apple product users. There is a possibility that Apple’s upcoming iOS 8 system in September may make the technology available to iPhone users but it is too soon to speculate.
By Faryal Najeeb