After it became known that roller coasters triggered the accident detection of the new iPhone 14, Apple has now spoken out.
In a new interview, two Apple executives gave a deeper dive into the iPhone 14’s new Crash Detection feature, which can detect if a user has been involved in a car accident and automatically alert emergency services and contacts. in the interview Kaiann Drance, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide iPhone Product Marketing, and Ron Huang, Apple’s vice president of Sensing and Connectivity, joined TechCrunch’s Brian Heater to discuss the technical aspects of crash detection in the latest iPhone and Apple Watch models. The latest devices have updated sensors that can detect sudden changes in movement and pressure and trigger an alarm along with other types of data from the iPhone. The updated accelerometer in the latest iPhone models can measure G-force up to 256Gs. When Apple developed the feature, it needed a “basic understanding of what happens in an accident,” Huang said in the interview.
Impact forces of over 100 G occur in these accidents. We started at 256G. Attempting to increase this range involves compromises between higher range precision and power costs. It took a lot of work for the team to build the sensors this way.
A fairly dynamic algorithm
In addition to data from the gyroscope and the accelerometer, iPhone uses numerous other variables to determine whether the user is moving in a car and whether the user has been involved in an accident. “There is no silver bullet to enable crash detection,” says Huang, adding that there isn’t a specific number of factors that need to be met before crash detection is triggered and emergency services are called.
It’s hard to say how many of these factors must be present because it’s not a simple equation. Depending on how fast you drove before, it also depends on which signals we need to see later. Your speed change, combined with the impact force, combined with the pressure change, combined with the sound level, it’s all a pretty dynamic algorithm.
There are some car accidents where the iPhone 14 or newer Apple Watch models intentionally don’t contact emergency services, Drance notes.
I had a fender bender accident earlier in New York. My accident detection did not trigger. It’s just one of those little things where you just get out of the car and keep driving. This is part of sensor fusion and accuracy, as we don’t want to make a lot of false calls to 911 when they aren’t necessary.
Despite Apple’s efforts to reduce false emergency calls, reports have surfaced that iPhone 14 devices are making emergency calls when users ride rollercoaster. The false emergency calls are likely due to the iPhone 14’s sensors misinterpreting the sudden braking and roller coaster movement as a collision with another vehicle. Other factors iPhone takes advantage of are sounds such as engine or road noise, and WiFi routers near an iPhone, which change rapidly based on a moving vehicle.
This is how Apple tested accident detection
In addition, Huang also touched on how Apple tested accident detection. The company has placed the iPhone in many vehicles equipped with cameras to analyze the impact. Apple also analyzed data from the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find out what types of accidents are the leading causes of injuries.
We put iPhones in many different places in the car – on the dummies and on the car itself, on mounts and so on. And then we collect all the raw sensor data that comes from these devices during such an accident. We also put cameras inside and outside the car so you can use the footage to see the actual impact and the pressure sensors as the airbag deploys in slow motion. We can look very closely at the data. We also look at data from the Department of Transportation or NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to find out what types of accidents are the most common causes of injury.
Interestingly, neither Apple executive would comment on the differences in accuracy between the iPhone 14 and the Apple Watch Series 8, but they did concede that they are not identical. Accident Detection is available for all iPhone 14 models, the Apple Watch SE 2, the Apple Watch Series 8 and the Apple Watch Ultra. (Photo by Razgulyaeff / Bigstockphoto)
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