Apple Files Transparent Texting Patent
March 31, 2014

New Apple Transparent Texting Patent Filed

Enid Burns for - Your Universe Online

Apple has once again filed for a new patent. This time the patent is for "transparent texting," AppleInsider reports.

The patent was filed on Thursday last week with the US Patent and Trademark Office and allows for the smartphone's rear camera to record what's going on in front of the phone by displaying the video live on the camera's screen. At the same time, the text interface will appear on the display as an overlay with some degree of transparency so that the user can see what is happening in front of them while also texting.

If Apple has a transparent texting program in development, it is still quite some time off. Apple, as well as competing companies, often file patents for technologies they develop to protect their intellectual property. Many of those patents turn into products, while a few patents serve to protect the intellectual property and prevent others from developing the same technology. Patents often don't see the light of day as actual products or applications, VentureBeat reports.

"Of course, just because an idea is patented doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Often, patents are simply defensive acts and don’t reveal actual plans that will go into production," wrote VentureBeat's Harrison Weber. "But this is Apple, and despite all its billions, the company ended up patenting an unimaginative idea five years too late. To Apple’s credit, it first filed this concept in 2012."

Competing apps already exist in the market, such as the Type n Walk app, which displays the action in front of you in a window above the soft keyboard. It is believed that Apple's technology will display the forward image on the full screen, applying transparency to the keys as well as the area that displays type. Some existing apps can become choppy as the user moves, and has potential to distract a user more than without the forward view. It might be necessary to apply image stabilization so that the user sees what is in front of him making the image more consistent.

The app uses an augmented reality function, which uses the rear camera to display what is in front of the user on the screen. Some examples have used the camera to determine what is in front of the user and create an environment for the user to explore. In the case of Apple's transparent texting, it is intended to make the user more aware of his surroundings.

The technology and patent have the potential to work with more than just texting applications, Apple Insider notes.

"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," wrote AppleInsider's Mikey Campbell.