U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Apple filed for a patent that will let users text and walk without tripping over uneven sidewalks or bumping into streetlamps. Called "transparent texting" the patent will turn a screen into a live video feed so users can see what's happening beyond their phone and text at the same time.
Texts would appear in bubbles over a rear-camera video feed that can be activated by a button, according to AppleInsider. Apple applied for the patent in September 2012, but it still hasn't shown up in Apple's iOS, despite the new operating system's transparent overlays. The patent could also mean that not only could it help with texting while walking, but also allow users to read email, documents or e-books while moving. From the patent:
An Internet browsing application, such as Apple Safari, similarly can present a live and continuously updated video background in place of the static background . . . Alternative embodiments of the invention can be applied to virtually any computer-executable application in which text is presented over a background.
This new patent could lessen the number of people hurting themselves because they text while walking -- approximately 1,100 a year end up in hospital emergency rooms -- but maybe the safest thing would be to encourage users to look up rather than giving them a continuous video feed. Perhaps Apple has thought about this angle, too, and may be the reason transparent texting hasn't appeared on its handheld devices. Giving users this feature could open up the tech company to more liability than it would like.