Forthcoming year, your iPhone could have a new feature: recognizing an automobile accident and instantly phoning 911. According to a Wall Street Journal article, Apple wants to release a function called “crash detection” for both iPhones and Watches. The functionality would allegedly make use of sensors such as the accelerometer found in Apple products.
According to the latest story from the Wall Street Journal, Apple plans to add a new “crash detection” capability to the iPhone and Apple Watch as early as next year. According to the source, when an iPhone or Apple Watch detects an automobile accident, the function will automatically dial 911. Apple devices have already seen more than 10 million suspected vehicle crashes.
The source says, the function will work by looking for a sudden increase in gravity, or “g,” forces upon collision. Over the last year, Apple has been testing this functionality by collecting anonymized data from iPhone and Apple Watch users.
According to the docs, Apple has been testing the crash-detection technology for the past year by collecting anonymized data from iPhone and Apple Watch users. As a result, more than 10 million suspected car hits have been detected by Apple products, with more than 50,000 of them resulting in a 911 call.
Apple has been leveraging 911 call data to increase the accuracy of its collision-detection algorithm because a 911 call connected with a suspected impact gives Apple more confidence that it is indeed a car crash. While the feature is scheduled to launch in 2022, likely as part of iOS 16 and watchOS 9, the report warns that “the timetable of the new feature could alter, or Apple could opt not to release it.”
The feature appears to be identical to the Apple Watch’s current fall detection feature. While it’s turned off by default if you’re under 65, anyone may turn it on using the Apple Watch app on their iPhone. The feature works by sensing a sudden fall and immediately phoning 911 if the user does not dismiss the alert within one minute of falling. In addition, if the individual’s emergency contact information is filled out, a text message with a map of the watch’s location at the moment of the fall will be sent to that person.
It isn’t a competition to the finish line. Google’s Personal Safety app for the Pixel 3 and Pixel 4 has a similar feature that can detect when you’ve been in a car accident and inform emergency personnel. GM has been delivering it in its cars for years through OnStar, and the OnStar Guardian app just added accident detection to cellphones. According to the WSJ, OnStar’s in-vehicle service reacts to over 6,000 crash notifications per month. It’s unclear whether this is a characteristic of the operating system or if it requires additional hardware.
Apple had previously examined similar ideas, as evidenced by patent filings in the same field. A patent application for “Mobile emergency attack and failsafe detection” was filed in 2014. It described how to onboard sensors on a smartphone or other device that might automatically request assistance if it senses the user is in distress. It involves becoming the target of a physical attack as well as being involved in a car accident. In that patent application, the system may evaluate the user’s well-being and determine the sort of care event using both health monitoring and other onboard sensors across numerous devices.