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Apple Watch saves life of a 67-year-old: How does Fall Detection feature work?

Apple Watch alerts the police after 67-year-old falls and helps arrived within 30 minutes

February 06, 2019 / 01:23 PM IST

Apple’s smartwatch Watch Series 4 is not just known to be one of the best fitness trackers that notifies users about text messages and calls, but also as a life-saving device. The smartwatch is reported to have saved life of a 67-year-old in Norway.

Toralv Ostvang, from Norway, has credited Apple Watch 4 for saving his life after he fainted and hit his head in the washroom. The watch has a feature where after a fall if it does not detect any movement from the user for more than 60 seconds, it alerts emergency services. As soon as the watch sent an alert message to the police, help arrived within half an hour. Ostvang sustained four fractures on his face.

His daughter, Kirsti Ostvang told national broadcast company NRK that without the smartwatch, there could have been a high probability of her father dying. She further stated that her father was not carrying his phone in the bathroom and it was amazing that the watch alarmed the officials who helped him survive after the severe fall.

How does Fall Detection work in Apple Watch 4?

The watch 4 has sensors like accelerometer and gyroscope that are used in fall detection. They measure up to 32 g-forces and use custom algorithms to calculate and identify if hard falls hurt the user. When a fall is detected, the Watch 4 will analyse wrist trajectory and impact acceleration to alert the user. The user can dismiss the alert or choose to inform the emergency services. However, if the user does not perform either of the actions, the watch would automatically notify the emergency services and send a message with the location to the emergency contacts updated by the user. This feature is exclusive to Apple Watch Series 4 and by default activated for users above 65 years.

Blast from the Past 

This is not the first time an Apple Watch has been a part of life-saving operations. Five such cases have been reported in the past wherein users credited the watch for notifying them about a possible life-threatening condition or contacted emergency services due to no response from the user. The watch also features electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) that monitor the user’s heart-rate and inform them to get medically checked in case of any possible irregularity. Users have written to Tim Cook, Apple CEO, thanking him for providing such life-saving features
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Pranav Hegde
first published: Feb 6, 2019 01:23 pm