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'Transparent Texting' Touts Safety

If you have ever stumbled over an object or bumped into someone while texting and walking, you probably felt foolish. Apple’s new “transparent texting” technology could spare you such embarrassment in the future.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently approved a patent for Apple’s see-through iPhone, according to a report at mashable.com. The website says 12 percent of people believe it is safe to walk and text, paying little attention to the world around them.

Instead of the white background on the iPhone messages app, users would see a live video image of what’s in front of them, captured by the phone’s camera. All they would have to do is activate the feature.

Of course, whether this technology could keep cellphone junkies from having accidents is up for debate. After all, even with transparent texting, users would still be focusing on sending and receiving messages.

A study by researchers at the University of Washington documented the hazards of walking while texting. The research, which focused on 20 busy Seattle intersections, determined that pedestrians who were texting took longer to cross and were more likely to disregard traffic signals and fail to look both ways before crossing.

Almost 30 percent of the 1,102 pedestrians observed were participating in a distracting activity while crossing streets: 11.2 percent listened to music, 7.3 percent texted, and 6.2 percent used a handheld phone. Texting, using a phone and talking with a friend all increased crossing time.

It is clear that many people are addicted to their smartphones. Mashable.com cited studies showing that that 60 percent of respondents check their phones at least once an hour.

Widely-viewed video has captured people appearing oblivious to danger while texting – walking into a mall fountain, stumbling on train tracks and nearly bumping into a bear.

It can be hazardous enough to be a pedestrian without making things worse by failing to pay attention. In 2012, Michigan traffic accidents killed 133 pedestrians and injured nearly 2,000. Of those killed, 36 percent were crossing streets outside of intersections, according to a report by the Michigan Department of State Police.