The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today awarded Apple a patent for questionable UI design.

We’re only partially kidding: The new patent details technology that would remind mobile messengers who they’re talking with — in a one-to-one or group conversation — by plopping a big outline of their correspondents’ faces in the background of their conversation, wherever that might be: SMS, email, iMessage, and so on.

Hey there, Wendy.

Above: Hey there, Wendy.

Image Credit: U.S. Patent & Trademark office

The system would recognize the contacts, then pull a graphic representing the participants from a device owner’s contact list. If there’s no graphic, it would use a generic image or outline.

In theory, this tech would make people more aware of who they’re talking with, making misdirected messages less of an issue.

But staring at one or more giant, shifting faces as you message your friends might be a distracting, less-than-pleasant experience. It seems to be the opposite of a clean little icon that contains all the relevant information.

Of course, Apple could employ all sorts of tricks — like desaturation or alpha bending — to make messengers focus on the active text, not the image (or images) behind it.

What say you, gentle reader? Is this tech you’d love to see come to iOS, or should Apple keep this one in its patent folder? Let us know in the comments section below.

Hat tip: AppleInsider