Apple’s latest phone and smartwatch lineup has been officially unveiled. There are new internal components such as a faster chip, impressive capabilities such as temperature sensing, and cool new software-hardware hybrids such as the Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro. However, one feature that stands out this year is the emphasis on life-saving features.
One such addition is a car crash detection system, which will be available for the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8 when they hit the market next week. The goal, as the name implies, is to detect whether or not a person has been in an automobile accident and is potentially injured. When this happens, the device will automatically contact emergency services for medical assistance. According to Apple, the car crash detection system was tested in a lab setting using a million hours of driving and crash analysis data from real cars.
To detect sudden impact events, Apple has equipped the iPhone 14 lineup, as well as the Watch Series 8, with a high dynamic range gyroscope and a high-G accelerometer. Consider equipping a fighter jet pilot with a wearable that can measure the extremely high G-forces experienced as a result of extreme speed and aerial maneuvers. For events such as high-speed front or rear impact, T-bone, vehicle rolling over, side crash, and so on, the onboard sensors in the Apple Watch Series 8 and iPhone 14 series will do just that.
How does Crash Detection kick in?
The car crash detection system requires dedicated hardware on watchOS 9 and iOS 16 compatible devices. There is no downloadable app involved here, either in-house or third-party. The new dual-core accelerometer inside the iPhone 14 is capable of measuring G-forces of up to 256G magnitude, according to Apple, and it is this sensor that provides the core movement data to detect if the user has been involved in an accident.
Similarly, the Apple Watch Series 8 and its Ultra counterpart now have upgraded accelerometer and gyroscope setups. The car crash detection mechanism, on the other hand, collects data from a few more sensors to really nail things down. The onboard barometer, for example, will detect if the cabin pressure inside a car has suddenly changed due to the deployment of airbags.
Furthermore, the microphone will pick up any loud noises made during a crash-like scenario, while the GPS system will look for unusual variations in distance covered and velocity. All of this sensor data is then processed collectively by advanced motion algorithms. When the system determines that a life-threatening incident has occurred, it proceeds to call emergency services.
What happens after an accident?
When sensor data from an Apple Watch and a compatible iPhone indicates that a crash has occurred, an on-screen prompt asks users if they are okay. Users can simply swipe away the prompt if the incident is not serious. If the user is unable to respond to the iPhone or Apple Watch’s crash detection prompt within ten seconds, it automatically dials an emergency helpline.
When an Apple Watch detects a crash and a connected iPhone is nearby, the call is routed through the phone for better signal and audio quality. The device(s) will share your location data with the responder in addition to connecting users with emergency services. Furthermore, it will notify your emergency contacts of the incident.
Apple also guarantees that the car crash detection algorithms will only begin collecting sensor data while the user is driving. Apple claims that its system has been proven to be effective in a variety of vehicles, including SUVs and trucks. At launch, car crash detection will be available on the iPhone 14 series and Apple Watch 8 series (including the Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch SE).