TechApple Watch calls for help: Life-saving tech steps up, but challenges persist

Apple Watch calls for help: Life-saving tech steps up, but challenges persist

Apple Watch Series 8
Apple Watch Series 8
Images source: © Getty Images | Bloomberg

9:02 AM EST, January 4, 2024

An auto evolution service report brings forward a case where an Apple Watch automatically dialed emergency services after its owner's car flipped over. While this instance is certainly not a first, it testifies to the wearable's ability to detect traffic accidents and owners' physical falls. Other systems and gadgets also possess this capacity - Google Pixel stands out as an example, having autonomously sought help for a man facing distress in his backyard in 2021.

The ability of the Apple Watch to identify a vehicle rollover and inform American emergency services is advantageous. However, the system could benefit from further enhancements, such as continued user engagement until assistance arrives at the scene. The device's many sensors, microphones, and GPS capability could facilitate real-time victim tracking.

Interestingly, when help arrived at the accident scene in Arizona, the Apple Watch owner had vacated the location, most likely in search of aid, unknowingly leaving his watch to call for help. Despite the eventual mobilization of 20 individuals and a helicopter, authorities could only locate the man a few hours later. Fortunately, he only sustained minor injuries.

The incident demonstrates the fallacy of assuming victim immobility following an automated distress call from a smartwatch. Yet, if the victim were unconscious, there may be a significant delay in alerting authorities about the accident or its whereabouts. This reality underscores the need for developers of such emergency-call algorithms to develop further a solution to enhance victim assistance.

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