At its Far Out event in September, Apple introduced a new feature for iPhone and Apple Watch called Crash Detection. It’s supposed to detect serious car crashes and automatically call 911 if it detects one.
But now emergency dispatchers are reporting that the Crash Detection feature is also misreading skiers and snowboarders as having crashed cars. In some cases, the calls have led to long helicopter searches of ski slopes in Canada.
What Is Crash Detection?
Crash Detection is a new feature that’s available on iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8. It automatically connects you with emergency services, provides your location, and alerts your emergency contacts.
The feature works by using data from sensors on your iPhone and Apple Watch that can sense impact and speed. It also uses a fusion algorithm that’s trained on car accident data.
But despite Apple’s best efforts, the feature can sometimes trigger false alarms. This is particularly true of winter recreation, where fast starts, stops, and jolts can fool your phone or watch into thinking you’re in trouble.
This has led to a lot of calls to emergency services from people who’ve been on roller coasters or ski slopes. And while most of these are just false alerts, it’s also caused a lot of worry for first responders who have received real emergencies.
How Does Crash Detection Work?
Crash Detection uses sensors to detect sudden changes in g-force and other physical inputs that indicate a severe crash. It’s a feature designed to alert emergency services when you meet with a front-impact, rear-end, or rollover collision.
The new high G-force accelerometer in iPhones and Apple Watches samples data four times faster than the previous model, which means it can more accurately detect crashes that involve a sudden change in g-force. This data is then processed by a machine learning algorithm that’s trained on car accident data.
When a crash is detected, the device will sound an alarm and display an alert. You can then swipe the on-screen Emergency Call switch to activate a call to emergency services or select Cancel to turn it off.
The device will also send your location with latitude and longitude coordinates, a suggested search radius, and emergency contacts. This information will help authorities find you and contact your family.
Is Crash Detection Reliable?
Crash Detection is a new feature on iPhone and Apple Watch that’s supposed to alert you when severe crashes are occurring. It does this by using motion data from the gyroscope and accelerometer within your device.
Unfortunately, the feature isn’t perfect and can still trigger false positives, especially if you’re not actually in a crash. Despite that, it’s still been tested and has worked for many users so far.
But that doesn’t mean it’s always reliable, which is why Apple has started collecting data about the feature to help it fine tune it.
In addition to that, the company has also added a dialog asking users whether they triggered an emergency call intentionally. That’s because the feature can be triggered accidentally by high-impact activities, such as skiing.
What Should I Do If Crash Detection Triggers?
Crash Detection on iPhone 14 and Apple Watch is designed to alert emergency services when users are involved in a severe car accident. It uses a combination of sensors and algorithm to recognize sudden changes in motion, such as rapid speed and deceleration.
The feature was designed to help prevent false alarms and save lives, but it’s not foolproof. For example, it can be triggered by rides on roller coasters that aren’t life-threatening.
This has been a problem at Kings Island, an amusement park in Ohio that sent people to the police six times last month for accidents they didn’t cause.
If you’re visiting a theme park, it’s recommended that you disable the crash detection feature on your phone and/or Apple Watch before riding any roller coasters. It’s also helpful to turn on Airplane mode on your iPhone 14 and new Apple Watch before hopping on board to avoid having the crash detection feature activate when you’re enjoying a ride.