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Apple's 'transparent texting' tech lets iPhone users safely message while moving

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
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.

Transparent


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.

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.

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If smartphones were to have a transparent display, or a system that offers the illusion of transparency, users would be more aware of their surroundings.

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. The onscreen result would be offer the illusion of a transparent display with floating text.

In one embodiment, the live video background is displayed behind the usual dynamic user interface seen in iMessage, complete with colored bubbles denoting a chat session between two or more people. These bubbles may be opaque or, in some cases, partially transparent to allow greater visibility of the live background.

Transparent
Source: USPTO


The system can be activated via an in-app button that transforms the GUI from the normal white background to a live video version.

Extending the application beyond messaging apps, the live video feed can be used in other situations requiring a significant amount of visual concentration. For example, the implementation may be an option in the use of mobile Web browsers, where text and images would float over the live-view background. Another embodiment covers e-book readers such as Apple's iBooks.

While not a completely foolproof system (users must point the iPhone camera straight ahead while walking for full visibility), Apple's invention proves the company is actively investigating unique ways to leverage existing hardware technology for the purpose of enhancing the mobile device experience.

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.

Apple's transparent texting patent application was first filed for in 2012 and credits Stephen T. Payne as its inventor.
post #2 of 36
Very clever idea! Even if you're not pointing it straight forward, it can help you avoid tripping or if you're in New York, stepping on dog doo.
post #3 of 36
There are tons of apps in the store that already do this%u2026 for instance this one https://itunes.apple.com/pt/app/text-n-walk-see-as-you-type/id424349962?l=en&mt=8 was posted before this patent was filed%u2026 yey patents!
post #4 of 36

What ever happened to the age old expression, "Watch where you're going"?

post #5 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDBA View Post

What ever happened to the age old expression, "Watch where you're going"?

True. Not to mention why enable irresponsible behavior? Does this mean you will be able to sue apple if you get hit by a car or fall into a ditch now?
 
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post #6 of 36
Great, Apple!

And I need a easier, safer, way to text email and SMS while drinking hot coffee, shaving and driving my car too!
post #7 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatever- View Post

There are tons of apps in the store that already do this%u2026 for instance this one https://itunes.apple.com/pt/app/text-n-walk-see-as-you-type/id424349962?l=en&mt=8 was posted before this patent was filed%u2026 yey patents!

There was that "Text n Talk" app many years ago but all anybody did was make fun of how stupid the users were. how cultures can change so quickly!
post #8 of 36
Apple should just shock the hell out of you when you start moving and texting. Pay the F attention!
post #9 of 36

I had an app that did this when I got my first iPhone, the 3G (no S)....I used it once. 

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post #10 of 36
Depending on the language in the patent, could this maybe cover transparency of text over a video view when wearing video display glasses?

Wearable displays with embedded cameras are inevitable. Whether Apple is doing them is the real question.
post #11 of 36

I don't see how this is patentable given the amount of prior art going back years.  I'ts not a new idea.

post #12 of 36
Definitely not a new idea at all and something I was using on my iPhone 3G (or maybe 3GS) years ago. Very weird that Apple would patent this when clearly the patent would never stand up to any challenge and apps doing this have been in their own AppStore for a long time.
post #13 of 36
There's a great new app called "Discretion." It turns texting off while you're moving...
post #14 of 36
Most texting walkers have the phone at a 45 degree angle downwards. Not sure how much benefit this idea gives to current devices.
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A.k.a. AppleHead on other forums.
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post #15 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post
 

I don't see how this is patentable given the amount of prior art going back years.  I'ts not a new idea.


Yes, probably a different kind of implementation, but the idea itself isn't new at all, and I don't see what this patent adds to what other apps have been doing before.

Nothing essentially new anyway.

post #16 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post
 

I don't see how this is patentable given the amount of prior art going back years.  I'ts not a new idea.

Ideas are not supposed to be patentable, only the implementation of those ideas.    And we don't know what methods Apple is using.   It's the method that is entitled to the patent (or not, as the case may be).

 

As far as the idea itself goes, I'm not sure it makes any practical sense and this may be a disguise for some other purpose.    Many people who walk and text have the phone almost parallel with the ground.     That's not going to help one see traffic or other people.    This would only work if there was a camera that "floated" and always faced forward.    

post #17 of 36
(unsubstantiated claims of) safer %u2260 safe
post #18 of 36
It's all fun until someone tries to swipe away the Mack truck bearing down on their texting experience...
post #19 of 36

love that they used "facepalm" in a patent application :)

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You did not come into the world to fail. You came into the world to succeed.

- Gordon Hinckley

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post #20 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

Most texting walkers have the phone at a 45 degree angle downwards. Not sure how much benefit this idea gives to current devices.

For this...

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrqhjhW-PAI

post #21 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by AjbDtc826 View Post

There was that "Text n Talk" app many years ago but all anybody did was make fun of how stupid the users were. how cultures can change so quickly!

It instantly becomes a great, and novel idea when Apple does it.
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"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #22 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

It instantly becomes a great, and novel idea when Apple does it.

Mainly because Apple doesn't just mark a checkbox on a spec list but actual integrates something in thee device.

That being said, we'll still make fun of folks texting and walking when they walk into a fountain.
post #23 of 36

Another feature to kill the battery?  

post #24 of 36
Other than avoiding the doggie doo, it needs a camera that points in the direction you are going
post #25 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

Most texting walkers have the phone at a 45 degree angle downwards. Not sure how much benefit this idea gives to current devices.

Fewer stumbles off curbs, rough sidewalk surfaces, into piled on the sidewalk crates etc.

post #26 of 36
I found a case that works with an app to see things in front of you without those ugly glasses. Pretty cool stuff. http://www.flicc-japan.com/flicc.html
post #27 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDBA View Post

What ever happened to the age old expression, "Watch where you're going"?

It got run over by a bus whilst crossing the road and texting.
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- African proverb
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"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
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post #28 of 36
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Originally Posted by ipen View Post

Another feature to kill the battery?  

Another feature to kill the user.
"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
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"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
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post #29 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

Another feature to kill the user.

The ultimate killer feature.


PS: I just got my tagline for my 2017 reimagining of Stephen King's Christine but with a smartphone.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #30 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post
 

Ideas are not supposed to be patentable, only the implementation of those ideas.    And we don't know what methods Apple is using.   It's the method that is entitled to the patent (or not, as the case may be).

 

Aren't implementations in software normally protected by copyright, not patents?

post #31 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carthusia View Post
 

I had an app that did this when I got my first iPhone, the 3G (no S)....I used it once. 

 

Youtube says this demo video was uploaded on 1 October 2009. 

 

 

It's "typing" rather than "texting", which probably means the world of difference in the patent world, but what would I know.

post #32 of 36
Congratulations to Apple Insider. @MikeyCampbell's article was mentioned by Robin Quivers during the news on today's Howard Stern Show on Sirius XM.

That's the second time in two days an AI article was mentioned. Yesterday Jean-Louis Gassée of Monday Note mentioned an article by Neil Hughes.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #33 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Congratulations to Apple Insider. @MikeyCampbell's article was mentioned by Robin Quivers during the news on today's Howard Stern Show on Sirius XM.

That's the second time in two days an AI article was mentioned. Yesterday Jean-Louis Gassée of Monday Note mentioned an article by Neil Hughes.

Interesting how diverse your sources of news and info are. I assume these sources, among others, help provide you with your wide gamut of knowledge? :D

Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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post #34 of 36
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Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post

Interesting how diverse your sources of news and info are. I assume these sources, among others, help provide you with your wide gamut of knowledge? 1biggrin.gif

The Howard Stern Show is mostly for entertainment purposes whilst driving but he does interview people like no other. Rarely is someone on his show that he doesn't end up being fascinating. Robin doing the news is usually not very technical so I was surprised she covered a patent, especially one that existed on the App Store years ago.

Jean-Louis Gassée is a brilliant man in technology, business, and writing. Back before Steve became Apple's iCEO his BeOS was in the running against NeXT to be the future of Apple. It would be a very different world if the board went the other way. His weekly article, usually posted on Sunday despite the site's name, are usually very entertaining.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #35 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by pazuzu View Post


True. Not to mention why enable irresponsible behavior? Does this mean you will be able to sue apple if you get hit by a car or fall into a ditch now?

Apple aren't enabling irresponsible behaviour; they are just recognising that this behaviour exists, and this is one small harm prevention technique...a bit like condoms, I think.

post #36 of 36
Originally Posted by Ingsoc View Post
Apple aren't enabling irresponsible behaviour; they are just recognising that this behaviour exists, and this is one small harm prevention technique...a bit like condoms, I think.

 

Exactly. If Apple wanted to prevent the behavior entirely, they’d sell spiked condoms.

 

Wait…

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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