Apple’s ‘transparent texting’ aims to end texting while walking fails

“Apple is looking into technology that offers users an easier, safer, way to text and walk by making an iPhone’s screen ‘transparent’ during messaging operations through the clever use of live video,” Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider.

“To enable a ‘transparent texting’ system, Apple proposes that an app’s background be modified to display video images continuously captured by an iPhone’s rear-facing camera, according to a patent application filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday,” Campbell reports. “Due to their inherently mobile nature, smartphones are often used while moving. This is fine for voice calls, but could be problematic for operations that demand visual attention like reading or writing text messages. Aside from appearing antisocial, texting could potentially cause bodily harm if a user operates their device while walking.”

“The implementation as described by Apple is quite simple. A device uses its rear-facing camera to continuously capture video and present the images as a background within a text messaging app currently being displayed,” Campbell reports. “The onscreen result would be offer the illusion of a transparent display with floating text.”

Apple's 'transparent texting' tech

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’re unsure of the merits of protecting idiots from themselves.

Look around. Why accelerate The Idiocracy?

Apple would better serve humanity by simply letting natural selection run its course. 😉


  1. So the rear camera is going to capture video images of the background? What is this background? Your feet? The floor? Even if holding the phone out, up slightly, even if you capture that drop off of the subway platform or that fountain at the mall, it is only a few steps away that by the time your brain’s cognition kicks in, your face is planted in the dirt or you coming up for air from the water fountain!

    These people are already engrossed in their texting conversation. What makes Apple think that having a transparent background of an impending problem is going to be of any concern to someone lost in reading and typing of text messages?

    Dumbest idea I’ve heard today!

    Agree with others… Natural Selection!

  2. MDN, it’s laudable to consider the merits of saving idiots from themselves. There’s an old saying that has appeared on billboards from time to time: “Mistakes happen because of lack of experience. Experience is gained by making mistakes.”

    Idiots and smart people make mistakes — we all do. If you raise a child in a super-protected environment where s/he is never allowed to make mistakes and learn from them you do a great disservice to that child.

    The public policy issue is about allowing the mistake-learn cycle from injuring other people and their property.

    Public policy that tries to restrict behavior by identifying that behavior specifically will almost always fail because it becomes unenforceable. Laws that punish someone for murder, for instance, do not attempt to define how the murder is committed, just that it was committed.

    Outlawing specific distracting behaviors when operating a motor vehicle on public roadways will fail because the specific behavior can’t be proven. For example, outlawing texting while driving will fail because you can’t prove someone was actually texting at the time of the accident. Furthermore, it doesn’t address the core issue of a judgement call made by the driver to allow him/herself to be distracted. Talking to a passenger can be very distracting. Reaching for a CD to put in the CD player can be distracting. Brushing hair or applying makeup takes concentration away from the primary responsibility of the driver. I saw someone eating soup from a bowl on the passenger seat the other day.

    So the answer is not to create law after law targeting specific distracting behaviors. The answer is, I think, two-fold: 1) Raise awareness of the dangers (shown to be effective in many behavioral areas like drinking and smoking), and 2) Punish offenders to the level that reinforces the awareness campaign.

    1. Not too long ago, whenever anyone died in a car crash, it was because the driver was stupid or careless and therefore no one besides drivers can change that. It wasn’t until the 1960’s, when attitudes were changing on many subjects, that people finally stepped up and said, cars can and should be designed to protect people better just in case there is a crash. Then we started getting mandated safety standards, crash tests, improved bumper designs, anti-lock brakes, seat belts, air bags – and automobile fatalities actually decreased dramatically.

      Turns out, industrial design focused on human interests can accomplish way more than just calling people stupid and hoping human nature will change.

      1. I agree wholeheartedly that the things mankind makes can be designed to protect us.

        My point was that laws that try to legislate behavior never work.

        If you were concluding by saying that it is unhelpful to call people stupid, I agree, again, wholeheartedly. Ditto for the wistful (and useless) hoping that human nature will change.

        Similar to the dramatic increases in survivability of automobile crashes which followed attitudes changes and all that attends to that, the TV commercials alerting people to the perils of taking drugs into Turkey were a huge success in stopping more tourists from being arrested there and sentenced to deplorable legal proceedings and incarceration practices. More recently there have been quite graphic commercials about texting while driving. Unscientifically, I know that in my children’s friend groups these commercials have worked.

  3. Animal herds running from a predator will kick the slow, weak, sick ones to the rear of the herd to avoid being eaten by the predator. Natural selection. Back of the herd.

    1. I think that’s partly why we call them animals. I think humans aspire to a more compassionate and complex understanding of the value of human life than animals do.

      What is the value to the herd of a single individual? What is the greatest contribution one individual can make to the herd? I think if we strip away a lot of fluff, the single greatest contribution an individual can make — in your analogy — is to sacrifice (willingly or not) himself to satiate the appetite of the predator. For a time. (Okay, I guess producing offspring that can either continue the herd or sacrifice themselves is important too)

      Would Stephen Hawkings have been eaten in the wild? Was that the greatest contribution to our society he could make?

      How about Stevie Wonder?

      How about Franklin D. Roosevelt?

      Many US Presidents have suffered from asthma and would probably have been unable to outrun a predator.

      I hope you don’t really think that any human who doesn’t meet some litmus test should be allowed to die.

      1. The definition of ‘weak’ will differ with the species and its position in the food chain. Toolmaker species like us transform a weak animal into a dominant predator, or a valuable social resource protected by the herd for its collective benefit.

  4. I think this shows Apple is working on some sort of eyeglass computer interface. Looking at your iPhone while you are walking is silly. Looking through glasses on which computer images are superimposed makes a lot of sense. Even more powerful would be glasses that could project stereoscopic images replicating the environment you are in and integrating computer images.

    By expression the idea in an iPhone environment, Apple avoids tipping its hands about its top secret g-glass killer.

  5. Anyone who’s spent any time on the campuses of CalTech or MIT knows that this technology would be as useful to the extremely intelligent among us as it could be for the dolts. Distraction is not the exclusive territory of the idiot.

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