See-through iPhone Patent Will Help You Walk and Text

Apple has a solution for the 12% of people who approve of walking and texting — heads down and eyes glued to their smartphone, even if a tall man in a bear suit offers hugs to stop them.

On Thursday, Apple secured a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a "transparent texting" technology that would allow users to see what's in front of them while looking at their iPhone.

The "transparent texting" technology would replace the white background in the iPhone Messages app with a live video image from the device's rear-facing camera. After the user turns on the feature, they'll be able to see exactly what's behind their iPhone. Whether that would still cause accidents — because more users would text more often — is open to debate.

Apple originally filed the patent for the technology on Sept. 26, 2012. The company hasn't indicated what its plans for "transparent texting" are — though the feature could conceivably be used in apps other than Messages.

Although Apple filed for the technology and the patent has been secured, apps such as Type n Walk for iOS and Walk N Text for Android similarly use the rear-facing camera to "see through" the phone.

Of course, apps and patents like this don't guarantee a lack of accidents. Typing and walking could be distracting enough in itself, even with a transparent background. Walk N Text, meanwhile, specifically asks you to not use the app while behind the wheel, as it's meant for "walking, and not texting while driving."

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