G-force detection as a key feature
Apple Watch users have known a similar feature for years: fall detection. Depending on the circumstances, false alarms could occur here in the past, such as on a skiing holiday on the downhill slope. The fact that the car accident detection (“Car Crash Detection”) can also trigger unwanted activations was recently found during roller coaster rides. TechCrunch spoke to two senior Apple employees: Ron Huang (Vice President of Sensing & Connectivity) and Kaiann Drance (Vice President of Worldwide iPhone Product Marketing).
Drance attributes the rollercoaster problem to the iPhone 14’s g-force detection. It is about loads that affect people – for example, during strong acceleration and changes of direction like on a roller coaster. Apple’s new crash detection measures up to 256G as the iPhone 14’s accelerometer has been significantly upgraded. Among other things, this is what distinguishes the new generation of iPhones and Apple Watch from older models. However, other components of the iPhone are also crucial for the feature – it just doesn’t work via the G-force measurement, according to Drance.
Other sensors, GPS, microphone and even Wi-Fi are also helpful
According to Drance, the acceleration sensor and gyroscope are just two of the components that ensure reliable accident detection. In addition, there is the GPS signal, which allows conclusions to be drawn about the travel speed of the user. The barometer can also be crucial – it detects the change in pressure in the car when an airbag is activated. The microphone of the iPhone also plays a crucial role. In addition, the iPhone pays attention to the typical noises of a car accident, as well as to engine and outside noises.
Bluetooth and CarPlay are used to detect the presence of the respective user in a car. Even nearby Wi-Fi routers can help. If the signal of corresponding routers changes particularly quickly from one device to the next, it may be an indicator of a car journey.
Huang summarizes the interaction of many factors as follows: “There is no one-size-fits-all solution for accident detection.” Rather, the feature works via a variety of algorithms, sensors and other components to ensure reliable functionality.
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