Is this a good solution?
Again, the safest bet is to avoid using the texting or accessing the Internet while walking. But phone use is on the rise and the problem of distracted walking is likely to only get worse.
Transparent texting should be better than the status quo, but you probably still won't be paying strict attention to your surroundings while your mind is engaged in the act of messaging, even if you can essentially see "through" your phone screen. Like the earlier stories of texting and walking accidents, a man in the Philadelphia area was caught on camera falling onto train tracks while talking on the phone. Thankfully no train was coming and he extricated himself. But it is a reminder that all forms of distraction can be dangerous. Our brains just aren't really great at mental multitasking.
You may have to alter your habits a bit to get the most out of the functionality. If you continue to stare downward at the phone, you'll only be seeing the ground, and possibly getting neck strain (which has already been dubbed "text neck"). Holding your mobile device in front of you and looking forward may allow you to read and see the obstacles that are coming up, and maintain better posture. But constant video will drain your battery faster than simply texting, so you might want to keep your charger handy. And if you're on the move all time without a place to plug in, you may be in trouble when it comes to battery life.
More potentially life-saving apps are in the works. The Audio Aware app by One Llama is under development for Android devices as of early 2014. It will use your phone's audio equipment to listen for sounds of danger, like car horns, screaming, screeching tires or sirens. When it hears one of the sounds, it will turn off anything you are listening to and play either the danger sound or canned audio to alert you to pay attention. Another possible upcoming application is CrashAlert, which is being developed at the University of Manitoba. It will reportedly use a depth-sensing camera to spot upcoming obstacles and give you a pop-up warning. The prototype uses an Xbox Kinect, which won't really fit on a phone, so this one would require upgraded phone equipment and is probably a ways off. And, of course, any number of sensors could be integrated into or attached to our phones to detect the things around us. There are all sorts of possibilities. But Apple's transparent texting seems likely to come into being sooner -- if they decide to implement it, that is.
Whether you decide to abstain from staring at your phone while walking or to keep doing it and use technology to make it a little safer, awareness of the danger around you is the first step to avoiding accidents. Transparent texting, or another app like it, can let you see the fast-approaching tree, moving vehicle or manhole you are about to walk into, and maybe keep you from becoming one of those ER statistics.
Author's Note: How Transparent Texting Works
I've caught myself pulling out my phone to multitask while walking the dog or heading to my car at lunch, only to discover that I don't really have the necessary coordination to pull it off -- or that I'm about to step in front of a car. It's sobering. I try very hard to only use the phone while at a stopping point. But seeing what's going on right now on social media or getting those messages out during the downtime of walking is a constant temptation.
When I first read this topic, I thought of Google Glass, then the technology in the movie "Her." Augmented reality and voice activated tech may mitigate this issue to an extent (while probably creating their own problems). And who knows what our phones will be able to do in the future. But while most of us are still too squeamish to speak our texts in public, or too broke to always have the latest phone, transparent texting, or an equivalent downloadable app, might be a good stopgap measure to prevent needless injuries and fatalities. I'll be interested to see if it pops up in the one of the next iOS upgrades. Until then, safe walking, everyone.
- ABC News. "Dangers of Distraction: Texting and Walking." February 15, 2014. (April 27, 2014) http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/dangers-distraction-texting-walking-22536812
- ABC News. "Pedestrian Deaths Linked to Texting and Walking." August 26, 2013. (April 28, 2014) http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/pedestrian-deaths-linked-texting-walking-20076570
- Apple iTunes. "Text and Walk App." (April 23, 2014) https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/text-and-walk-app/id568779489
- Apple iTunes. "Type n Walk." CGactive. (April 26, 2014) https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/type-n-walk/id331043123
- Apple iTunes. "WalkNText (Type N Walk + Flashlight). Incorporate Apps. April 18, 2012. (April 26, 2014) https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/walkntext/id496962781
- Augenstein, Neal. "Texting, walking more risky than distracted driving." WTOP. March 5, 2014. (April 26, 2014) http://www.wtop.com/256/3574525/Texting-walking-more-risky-than-distracted-driving
- Barnard, Linda. "Apple offers transparent solution for walking and texting." Star. March 31, 2014. (April 16, 2014) http://www.thestar.com/business/2014/03/31/apple_offers_transparent_solution_for_walking_and_texting.html
- Barth, Liza. "Texting is 23-times riskier than using cell phone while driving." Consumer Reports. July 28, 2009. (April 27, 2014) http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2009/07/texting-is-23-times-riskier-than-using-cell-phone-while-driving/index.htm
- BBC. "UN: Six Billion Mobile Phone Subscriptions in the World." Oct. 12, 2012. (April 29, 2014) http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-19925506
- BrothaTech. "Avoid Embarrassing Pedestrian Mishaps with Text And Walk App." PC Mag. January 3, 2013. (April 23, 2014) http://appscout.pcmag.com/apple-ios-iphone-ipad-ipod/306535-avoid-embarrassing-pedestrian-mishaps-with-text-and-walk-app
- Brownlee, John. "CamText Brings Apple's Transparent Texting Tech To Jailbroken iPhones Today." Cult of Mac. April 16, 2014. (March 30, 2014) http://www.cultofmac.com/272320/camtext-brings-apples-transparent-texting-tech-jailbroken-iphones-today-jailbreak/
- BuzzFeed Central. "Girl Falls In Mall Fountain While Texting." January 14, 2011. (April 23, 2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mg11glsBW4Y
- Campbell, Mikey. "Apple's 'transparent texting' tech lets iPhone users safely message while moving." AppleInsider. March 27, 2014. (April 16, 2014) http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/03/27/apples-transparent-texting-tech-lets-iphone-users-safely-message-while-moving
- CGactive. "Type n Walk." (April 26, 2014) http://www.type-n-walk.com/
- Cody. "CamText: Jailbreak Tweak lets you see where you're walking while you text [Updated: Released]." iPhone Hacks. March 19, 2014. (April 26, 2014) http://www.iphonehacks.com/2014/03/camtext-tweak-lets-see-youre-walking-text.html
- Cydia. "Welcome to Cydia." (April 26, 2014) https://cydia.saurik.com/
- Davies, Alex. "Teen Pedestrian Deaths Are Up And Texting May Be The Reason." Business Insider. August 30, 2013. (April 28, 2014) http://www.businessinsider.com/texting-while-walking-killing-teenagers-2013-8
- Distraction.gov. "What is Distracted Driving?" (April 27, 2014) http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/facts-and-statistics.html
- Dominus, Susan. "How the Streets of New York Got More Dangerous." New York Times. December 14, 2009. (April 16, 2014) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/nyregion/15bigcity.html
- Epstein, Zach. "Apple invents brilliant 'transparent texting' solution that has already existed for years." BGR. March 27, 2014. (April 26, 2014) http://bgr.com/2014/03/27/apple-transparent-texting-iphone/
- Google. "Glass" (April 28, 2014) http://www.google.com/glass/start/
- Google Play. "Walk N Text (Type n Walk)." November 21, 2013. (April 26, 2014) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.incorporateapps.walktext
- Gorzelany, Jim. "Texting Nearly As Dangerous While Walking As Driving." Forbes. August 2, 2013. (April 27, 2014) http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2013/08/02/texting-nearly-as-dangerous-while-walking-than-driving/
- Howden, Catherine. "DOT Unveils New Tools to Help Communities Keep Pedestrians Safe." National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. August 5, 2013. (April 27, 2014) http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/DOT+Unveils+New+Tools+to+Help+Communities+Keep+Pedestrians+Safe
- Huffington Post. "World Has About 6 Billion Cell Phone Subscribers, According To U.N. Telecom Agency Report." October 11, 2012. (April 28, 2014) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/11/cell-phones-world-subscribers-six-billion_n_1957173.html
- Jailbreak QA. "FAQ." (April 26, 2014) http://www.jailbreakqa.com/questions/32462/frequently-asked-questions
- Kluber, Amy. "Apple's 'transparent texting' could help you text and walk." KTVU. March 30, 2014. (April 16, 2014) http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/apples-transparent-texting-could-help-you-text-and/nfN26/
- Knapton, Sarah. "Descent of man: how texting stops us walking tall." Telegraph. January 23, 2014. (April 26, 2014) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10590561/Descent-of-man-how-texting-stops-us-walking-tall.html
- Lagorio-Chafkin, Christine. "The Trouble with Apple's 'Transparent Texting.'" Inc. March 27, 2014. (April 16, 2014) http://www.inc.com/christine-lagorio/trouble-with-apple-transparent-texting.html
- Larotonda, Matthew. "Pedestrian Death Surge Spurs DOT Safety Grants." ABC News. August 5, 2013. (April 28, 2014) http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/08/pedestrian-death-surge-spurs-dot-safety-grants/
- Le Marie, Nicole. "Transparent texts 'are the way forward': iPhone feature 'will allow users to message while they walk." Metro. March 30, 2014. (April 16, 2014) http://metro.co.uk/2014/03/30/transparent-texts-are-the-way-forward-iphone-feature-will-allow-users-to-message-while-they-walk-4683593/
- Liberty Mutual Insurance. "Distracted Walking: Danger on the Crosswalk." July 17, 2013. (April 27, 2014) http://www.libertymutual.com/safe-and-smart-living/pedestrian-safety
- Lomas, Natasha. "Apple Files Transparent Texting Patent To Help People Who Walk And Text." Techcrunch. March 27, 2014. (April 16, 2014) http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/27/transparent-texting-patent/
- Loth, Renée. "Put that phone down and just walk." Boston Globe. July 13, 2013. (April 27, 2014) http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/columns/2013/07/12/distracted-texting-rises-pedestrian-deaths/GGNWwpjuVDM6aEPf08PuoI/story.html
- Lowy, Joan. "Texting While Walking: How Distracted Pedestrians Are Hurting Themselves." Huffington Post. July 30, 2012. (April 28, 2014) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/30/texting-while-walking_n_1717864.html
- Metz, Rachel. "App Listens for Danger When You're Not Paying Attention." MIT Technology Review. February 26, 2014. (April 26, 2014) http://www.technologyreview.com/news/524971/app-listens-for-danger-when-youre-not-paying-attention/
- Metz, Rachel. "Safe Texting While Walking? Soon, There May Be an App for That." MIT Technology Review. April 15, 2013. (April 26, 2014) http://www.technologyreview.com/news/513401/safe-texting-while-walking-soon-there-may-be-an-app-for-that/
- Mlot, Stephanie. "Apple Patent Eyes Fewer Texting-While-Walking Mishaps." PC Mag. March 27, 2014. (April 23, 2014) http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2455546,00.asp
- Moscaritolo, Angela. "Woman Walks Off a Pier While Distracted by Facebook." PC Mag. December 18, 2013. (April 23, 2014) http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2428537,00.asp
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Everyone is a pedestrian." (April 27, 2014) http://www.nhtsa.gov/nhtsa/Safety1nNum3ers/august2013/SafetyInNumbersAugust2013.html
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Pedestrians." (April 27, 2014) http://www.nhtsa.gov/Pedestrians
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Traffic Safety Facts - 2010 Data - DOT HS 811 625 - Pedestrians." August 2012. (April 27, 2014) http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811625.pdf
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Traffic Safety Facts - 2011 Data - DOT HS 811 748 - Pedestrians." August 2013. (April 27, 2014) http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811748.pdf
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Traffic Safety Facts - 2012 Data - DOT HS 811 888 - Pedestrians." April 2014. (April 27, 2014) http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811888.pdf
- New York Daily News. "New app aims to keep people safe while texting and walking." March 10, 2014. (April 26, 2014) http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/app-people-walk-text-article-1.1716525
- Payne, Stephen T, inventor; Apple Inc., assignee. "Transparent Texting." U.S. Patent 2014/0085334 A1, filed September 26, 2012, and issued March 27, 2014. http://pdfaiw.uspto.gov/.aiw?PageNum=0&docid=20140085334&IDKey=87B066AC9C33&HomeUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fappft.uspto.gov%2Fnetacgi%2Fnph-Parser%3FSect1%3DPTO2%2526Sect2%3DHITOFF%2526u%3D%25252Fnetahtml%25252FPTO%25252Fsearch-adv.html%2526r%3D3%2526p%3D1%2526f%3DG%2526l%3D50%2526d%3DPG01%2526S1%3D%28345%25252F633.CCLS.%252BAND%252B20140327.PD.%29%2526OS%3Dccl%2F345%2F633%252Band%252Bpd%2F3%2F27%2F2014%2526RS%3D%28CCL%2F345%2F633%252BAND%252BPD%2F20140327
- Pew Research Center. "Mobile Technology Fact Sheet." (April 28, 2014) http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/mobile-technology-fact-sheet/
- Preidt, Robert. "Texting While Walking Often Leads to Injuries: Expert." HealthDay article on U.S. National Library of Medicine site. March 6, 2014. (Aprile 26, 2014) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_144976.html
- Rainie, Lee. "Cell phone ownership hits 91% of adults." Pew Research Center. June 6, 2013. (April 28, 2014) http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/06/06/cell-phone-ownership-hits-91-of-adults/
- Rotarian. "Twice Told Tales." May 1958, Page 64. (April 28, 2014) http://books.google.com/books?id=VEIEAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
- Safe Kids Worldwide. "1 in 5 High School Student Crosses the Street While Distracted by Technology." August 26, 2013. (April 28, 2014) http://www.safekids.org/press-release/1-5-high-school-students-crosses-street-while-distracted-technology
- Sampson, Tim. "It's not just you: Humans are terrible at walking while texting." Daily Dot. January 23, 2014. (April 28, 2014) http://www.dailydot.com/lifestyle/text-while-walking-impaired-study/
- Schabrun, Siobhan M., Wolbert van den Hoorn, Alison Moorcroft, Cameron Greenland and Paul W. Hodges. "Texting and Walking: Strategies for Postural Control and Implications for Safety." PLOS One. January 22, 2014. (April 28, 2014) http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0084312#s5
- University of Buffalo - School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. "UB Emergency Medicine Expert Warns Against Walking and Texting." February 24, 2014. (April 26, 2014) http://medicine.buffalo.edu/news_and_events/news.host.html/content/shared/smbs/news/2014/02/texting-walking-advice-3669.detail.html
- Williams, Rhiannon. "Transparent texting for iPhone ." Telegraph. April 1, 2014. (April 26, 2014) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/iphone/10736558/Transparent-texting-for-iPhone-in-development.html