Apple has filed a patent for "transparent texting" technology, which would be a handy new mobile service that will replace a text message's white background with a live feed of the things literally happening right in front of your face.
The technology is designed to be used to protect texting pedestrians, allowing them to walk and text without bumping into things like lampposts or moving cars. In describing the need for such game-changing technology, the patent describes the "rather unique predicament" of the text message-ers:
A user who is walking while participating in a text messaging session may inadvertently collide with or stumble over objects in his path because his attention was focused on his device's display instead of the path that he was traversing. 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.
How to fix the potentially embarrassing and dangerous problem of being so engrossed in a text that you are completely oblivious to your surroundings? How to ensure that the walking mobile text message participant be allowed to select the correct emoji with the concentration required? This is clearly the only solution.
The patent applications explains that "it is common, even if not entirely safe, for a mobile device user to engage in a text messaging session while he is concurrently walking," adding that "such a user often will find it difficult to divide his attention between his device's display and his environmental surroundings." Don't worry, avid texters, Apple will save you. It knows how hard it is to deal with environmental surroundings, and it want to make sure that you won't have to for much longer. Like, how hard would it be to talk to your best buddy Steve about cows and also notice that tree? It's impossible, without the transparent texting technology.
TechCrunch explains that there could be other, less ridiculous uses for the technology:
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.
As well as other, equally ridiculous ones:
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.
Apple first filed the patent back in 2012, the same year the Associated Press reported that "reports of injuries to distracted walkers treated at hospital emergency rooms have more than quadrupled in the past seven years and are almost certainly underreported." According to AppleInsider: it's not clear when or Apple will actually be ready to adapt the technology to their phones, but it could be soon.
It is unknown if Apple is planning to work such a feature into its next iOS build, but the tech required to enable similar functionality is already in place. A transparent texting window could even be considered a good fit with the new 'flat,' layered iOS 7 design aesthetic.
Goodbye forever, human eye contact. :( :( :(.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.