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What is the secret to Apple’s crash detection?

Apple introduced Crash Detection, a brand new feature for its iPhone 14/Apple Watch Series 8 earlier this autumn. It works, we know. Even when it shouldn’t.

However How What exactly is crash detection? Why would rollercoaster rides trigger Crash Detection?

Apple executives Ron Huang, vice-president of sensing and connection, and Kaiann Drance vice president worldwide iPhone marketing spoke to TechCrunch. They discussed the details behind these new features.

These are the lessons we have learned.

1. G-Forces can be used for more than ‘Top Gun’.

Crash Detection is made possible because of new advancements to the gyroscope and accelerometer — sensors within the iPhone and Apple Watch that detect motion and speed.

“It’s mostly the G-Force detection,” Drance told TechCrunch. “It’s able to detect G-Force up to 256 Gs. That was one of the key differences for the new accelerometers that the new watches and phones have.”

To give context, Kenny Brack, an Indycar driver, experienced 214 Gs when his car crashed at Texas Motor Speedway. It was traveling 220 mph. Severe car accidents usually involve 100 Gs or more.

Crash Detection’s G-Force section has you covered, suffice it to say.


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2. Sensors in a symphony

G-Force sensors, however, are not the only technology that can determine if there has been a crash. Crash Detection considers many other factors. GPS is used to determine high speeds and microphone activity to hear the crash sounds. A barometer detects pressure when airbags deploy. Bluetooth and CarPlay are also available to notify your smartphone that you’re inside a vehicle.

Apple worked closely with crash laboratories to create simulations and collect data. Apple even collected historical data from both the Department of Transportation (Department of Transportation Safety Administration) and NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), to better understand the effects of injuries. It was this way that you could be sure the feature didn’t automatically go off when your phone fell.

3. “It’s not a straight equation.”

Crash Detection must be considered All of these data points to determine if there’s been a crash — it’s not just one overruling data point or specific calculation that triggers it. The sensors are the key to understanding the entire story.

Crash Detection analyzes the information for all the parts of a car accident. Huang explained that the vehicle’s speed, collision, pressure change and sound levels all contribute to determining whether or not the feature has been activated.

“It’s all a pretty dynamic algorithm.”

4. Alerts for emergency assistance

It is ironic that when you are most in need of help, and least likely to receive it, your car crashes into a remote place. Apple knew this.

Your iPhone/Apple Watch will attempt to call 911 using your normal carrier network if this occurs. It will try to connect with any other carrier if it fails. Huang also stated that the iPhone would make an SOS phone call using satellite connectivity if no mobile service is available.


Apple’s iPhone 14 line connects with satellites to send emergency messages

5. Apple Watch functions the same, just slightly differently

Huang claims that Crash Detection for the iPhone and Apple Watch have similar accuracy, but work slightly differently.

“Watch is on your wrist, and the kind of impact you see on your wrist during a crash will be very different,” he said. “…But for instance, [the] The barometer and the iPhone are very similar. So there are differences based on how the devices are used, placed, or worn.”

Apple already said that Crash Detection would be refined over time. You can disable this feature if the amusement park enthusiast doesn’t wish to have the police following you around on rollercoasters.


Rollercoasters can trigger crash detection on Apple’s iPhone 14

If you don’t want to ride on rollercoasters, leave your iPhone/Apple Watch at home with someone who isn’t afraid of them and can watch from stable ground.

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