Apple Files Transparent Texting Patent To Help People Who Walk And Text

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Sometimes it’s the little things that matter. Like being able to carry on texting without walking into a tree. Apple apparently thinks so anyway.

A patent that Cupertino filed back in September 2012 has just surfaced with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider) that shows the company thinking up ways to help people keep walking and texting without bumping into stuff.

The transparent texting system replaces the background of a mobile device’s text messaging app with a continuous real-time video feed, using the device’s rear camera, so the user can both see what’s being said, and where they’re going. Who says Apple can’t do disruption anymore?

The patent describes how the transparency feature could be activated by the user pressing a transparency button within a texting session that switches on the video feed. The feature would then ensure text bubbles appear overlaid over the live background video. The text bubbles themselves could be opaque or semi-transparent, the patent notes.

Apple added transparency overlays to iOS, as part of the major makeover it gave its mobile operating system in iOS 7. The transparency element was more of a minor makeover, however, providing only a subtle hint of what’s underneath iOS elements, such as the keyboard, or Control Centre. It certainly does not offer anything as radical as the full transparency described in this texting patent filing (U.S. patent no. 20140085334).

The patent goes on to detail potential extensions of the concept of transparent texting — i.e. beyond an iMessage-style texting use-case, including replacing the background of a webpage with a live video feed, so that the text of a website is overlaid over whatever environs the device user is moving through. Or even replacing the static white background of an e-book – so iPhone users on the way to work could keep reading their iBook and not bump into any lampposts.

“Alternative embodiments of the invention can be applied to virtually any computer-executable application in which text is presented over a background,” the patent application adds.