Sure it’s obnoxious, but there’s no denying that plenty of people text while walking. I see it happen in New York every day. I even do it myself from time to time. But while I don’t advocate it, I’m not against a way to make it safer, or at least reduce your risk of stepping in dog poop. A patent application for “transparent texting” filed by Apple(s aapl) (and spotted by Apple Insider) could do just that.
The idea is simple, though the application makes it sound somewhat complicated:
“A method of communicating, the method comprising: displaying, on a display on a front of a device, a background depicting a scene currently being viewed by a camera on the device; overlaying, on the background, a messaging application capable of sending and receiving messages, the messaging application occupying a first area of the background; wherein portions of the background on which the messaging application is overlaid are visible.”
Basically, the back camera on your device can deliver a live video stream over which you can send your text messages. So as you’re looking down at your screen, you’re still able to see what’s in front of you. According to the application, you could activate this feature once in a message, and the traditional background would switch to a video feed over which text bubbles appear. And the actual bubbles could be opaque or partially transparent to make things even clearer.
As someone who has almost bumped into a garbage can once or twice while sending a text, I think this is a great idea. But if it ever comes to fruition, I just hope it doesn’t inspire even more people to get on their phones while walking down the block.