With the iPhone 14 and new Apple Watches, Apple introduced a brand new feature — one that has already saved lives.
It’s called Crash Detection and uses a device’s gyroscopic sensor and high-g accelerometer to detect the kind of impact you might receive in a car crash. If you don’t respond to an alert within 20 seconds, it’ll assume you’re unconscious and phone an ambulance.
The trouble is that it’s a bit overzealous, and has been calling for help when brought on fast-moving rollercoasters, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The paper says that this has happened at least six times since the iPhone 14 was released, and included this marvellous example of the kind of automated calls emergency services are now dealing with. The screams of delight in the background are a nice touch.
On one hand, this is a sign that the technology is working. If you were accelerating at the speed of your average rollercoaster on a sleepy country road, and then suddenly stopped, then it’s a fair bet that you’d need urgent medical help, stat.
On the other, this means that your phone is essentially prank calling 111 from theme parks and wasting medical staff’s precious time. The Journal’s piece mentions that on at least one occasion, an ambulance has been dispatched to a theme park, only to find nothing wrong. Hopefully they didn’t have to pay for a day pass to get in, and got some free candy floss for their trouble.
You would imagine Apple will finetune the algorithm to stop these false positives in the long run, but if you own the new iPhone 14 or any of the new Apple Watches, you should probably put your devices on to Airplane mode before you board a rollercoaster. Or, y’know, don’t take a NZ$1,599 smartphone on a high-speed, physics-defying thrill ride in the first place…