Multi-tasking on a smartphone can be dangerous, especially if it involves trying to read the screen while walking. A new application on the Android market should be a requirement for any smart device user taking to busy streets.
The free app, called Transparent Screen, is pretty self explanatory. Created by German Android application developer Sascha Affolter, the widget uses your camera to display an image of what's going on behind your phone underneath your regular phone functions.
I took Transparent Screen for a spin on my phone around downtown Boulder, Colo. The app let me adjust the transparency level, showing more or less of the camera's image depending on my preference.
On a sunny and cold day like today, even just seeing the regular phone screen through the glare and operating the phone with my icy fingertips was a challenge. Boulder's sidewalks feel luxuriously giant compared to New York City, so there was plenty of time to see and avoid walking into dogs and snow banks.
In a major city, this app would certainly come in handy. You'd still need to either adjust the direction your phone is facing or glance up to avoid peripheral hazards like traffic and cyclists. However, Transparent Screen could save you from walking into posts, signs, walls, people and stepping in gross stuff like dog doo.
Using the camera does drain the battery somewhat and I found there was a slight delay in the image tracking, although that could have very well been the cold. On busy sidewalks, those tradeoffs might be well worth it for safety.
Today I noticed other people walking around Boulder with laser-like focuses on their smartphone screens. But nobody stayed like that for long. When the sun is shining and the Flatirons are dusted with snow, it's easier to pocket the phone and enjoy the view.
Credit: Transparent Phone App Screen Grab