Crash Detection Also Causes False 911 Calls from Skiers

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It looks like that Apple is in hot waters when it comes to dispatchers’ responses related to false 911 calls from skiers. If you take a look at the report from New York Post, you’ll find out that dispatchers have received a huge increase in false emergency calls from local ski resorts due to Apple’s latest feature – Crash Detection.

Similar to Fall Detection introduced in the Apple Watch Series 4, Crash Detection can detect a critical car accident and will automatically contact emergency services if the user is unresponsive. This feature is enabled by default, and it is currently found in Apple’s latest lineup of iPhones and Apple Watches, including the iPhone 14 line and Apple Watch Ultra.

However, Crash Detection could even contact emergency services even if the skier took a hard tumble. We all know that technology can never be perfect when it comes to detecting a real event, so it should come as no surprise that such a feature could have false positive results. This isn’t the first time that this feature has had false positive results. In fact, a few months ago, we had reports that riding on rollercoasters could trigger a false positive.

This feature relies on both the accelerometer and gyroscope. You know how ambitious it is for Apple to implement this safety feature because of those advanced motion algorithms that they designed along with such thorough testing. Apple has been collecting feedback from emergency call centers that have experienced false calls, and they issued a software update (iOS 16.1.2) that would hopefully reduce the number of false emergency calls with those optimizations in mind.

However, it would only be a matter of time to see if that will be the case, and that depends on whether the users have updated their iPhones or Apple Watches to the latest software versions. Thankfully, there have been events when this life-saving feature alerts first responders to actual car crashes, so there’s a lot that Apple could learn from to optimize this feature.

Nick Soong
Author: Nick Soong

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