Apple to reportedly test crash-detection feature for devices

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Documents show that the company may add the feature to the iPhone and the Apple Watch

You’re driving down the highway when your car skids off the road and into a ditch, knocking you unconscious. But help is on the way because your iPhone automatically dialed 911 to report the accident.

That’s the vision laid out in Apple documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal. According to the documents, Apple plans to harness crash detection data built into Apple devices to detect car crashes. Apple engineers say it’s possible to do so by looking for a sudden increase in G-forces.

Industry analysts say it would be similar to the way Apple is able to detect hard falls by people carrying an iPhone or wearing an Apple Watch. The devices automatically dial 911 if the user doesn’t respond to an automatic query. In 2021, Apple added a new iPhone feature that analyzes how steady a user is walking and alerts them if it detects that they are about to fall.

No confirmation

Apple isn’t commenting on the report. Sources tell the Journal that Apple hasn’t decided on timing for adding the feature and could decide to table the project for a while. Privacy could be a complicating factor. Apple has built much of its public reputation around privacy, and it’s not clear how close monitoring of a user’s device would fit into that narrative.

Jarvia, of Los Angeles, gave Apple a 5-star review on ConsumerAffairs and likes the idea that the company is pushing the technology envelope. 

“While other cell phone manufacturers are making tremendous headway in this space, Apple continues to lead in innovation, technology, design, and practical functionality with its highly integrable iPhone lineup,” Jarvia wrote in a ConsumerAffairs review. “These phones are extremely user friendly, integrate and share data seamlessly across other Apple devices and take the guesswork out how to stay connected.”

Currently being tested

In tests of Apple’s crash-detecting technology, some users have anonymously shared data from their iPhones and Apple Watches. The company documents show that Apple devices have already detected more than 10 million vehicle accidents, with more than 50,000 calls to a 911 dispatcher.

Other devices currently monitor vehicle activity for signs of a crash. The first was General Motors’ OnStar, built into many GM models. Google provided a similar feature to its Pixel phone two years ago, and several apps do much the same thing.

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