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How Does Fall Detection Work in Apple Watch? How Can it Save Lives?

Apple Watch is known for its health and productivity features. One such important health feature known to save lives across the world is Fall Detection. The Cupertino-giant first introduced it back in 2018, and it has been on every Apple Watch since then. But what exactly is Fall Detection in Apple Watch? How does it work, what are the sensors used, and how can it save your life? Let’s check in detail below.

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What is the Fall Detection in Apple Watch?

Fall Detection in Apple Watch

Fall Detection on Apple Watch is designed to detect when you go through a hard fall while the watch is on your wrist. When it detects one, it sounds an alarm, taps you on the wrist, and shows an alert.

You get the option to call emergency services if you’re in trouble. But if the watch detects no response, it automatically calls the emergency services and contacts and plays the audio telling that you are in an emergency.

Fall Detection was first introduced in Apple Watch 4 back in 2018. Since then, it has been carried over to all the newer models. Over time, the company has improved the feature to make it more accurate and avoid false detections.

Following the same, the Apple Watch Series 6 and Series 7 come with advanced, more accurate sensors for detecting hard falls.

Apple Watch Models With Fall Detection

  • Apple Watch Series 4
  • Apple Watch Series 5
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch SE
  • Apple Watch Series 7

How Does Fall Detection Work in Apple Watch?

How Does Fall Detection Work in Apple Watch

The Fall Detection feature relies on Accelerometer and Gyroscope sensors on the Apple Watch. It uses data from the sensors to analyze the wrist trajectory and impact acceleration paired with a custom algorithm to detect a hard fall.

When you have a hard fall, it automatically enables an emergency alarm and hand vibrations on the watch. After sending the alert, it waits for the wearer to respond- you can choose to call the emergency services or dismiss the alert by tapping Close, the crown, or “I’m OK” on the screen.

However, suppose the watch does not get any response within a minute and detects that you’re immobile. In that case, it will make an alert sound that gets louder significantly to capture the attention of the people around for help.

How Does Fall Detection Work in Apple Watch

If no one responds, it will automatically call the emergency services. This can be a life savior if the user has an accident or fallen unconscious.

The smartwatch will autoplay an emergency recording when connected with the emergency services. It will let them know that you have fallen or the system has detected a hard fall. After that, it will send your location alongside longitude and latitude coordinates for them to reach you quickly.

The audio recording also plays on the watch louder so that you or anyone else around you can talk to the emergency service provider. The volume level reduces in succeeding cycles if no one attends the call.

And once the call ends, it will send a message to your emergency contacts with your location to let them know you had a fall and it has reached out to emergency services. You can set your emergency contacts in your Medical ID.

Is Fall Detection Enabled By Default?

By default, it is enabled for all users aged 55 and above. If you’re younger, you’ll need to enable it manually. Check more on it below.

Will it Work on Non-Cellular Models?

Fall detection will contact emergency services using the paired iPhone if you do not have the Cellular version. Note that the iPhone needs to be close by and have an active mobile network for it to work.

How to Turn On Fall Detection in Apple Watch?

By default, the Apple Watch automatically enables fall detection if you’re over 55. However, if your age is less than 55, you must enable it manually using the steps below.

How to Turn On Fall Detection in Apple Watch
  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Click on the My Watch tab at the bottom.
  3. Next, tap Emergency SOS and turn on the toggle for Fall Detection.
  4. You can further select whether it should stay on always or only during workouts.

Apple mentions that the watch may detect high-impact activities as a fall, causing false detections.

Setting Up Emergency Contacts

Apple Watch pulls emergency contacts from your Medical ID. You can set up a Medical ID and add people to contact in an emergency by going to iPhone Settings > Health > Medical ID.

You can add multiple people as emergency contacts who will receive alerts at the time of a mishappening. If you do not add any contacts, the watch will only dial the Emergency SOS number- 911.

Uses of Fall Detection on Apple Watch

According to reports, more than one-third of persons 65 years of age or older fall each year. Fall Detection can be a life savior for elders as they’re highly vulnerable to such fails, especially if no one’s around to take care of them.

It can also be a boon if you fall or meet an accident while biking, running, or hiking. If you’re alone and are stuck or unconscious, it will automatically call emergency services and likely save your life.

There are hundreds of real-life cases where the Apple Watch saved lives with fall detection. Recently, it saved a 70-year old man’s life after he fainted and hit his head on the floor. Similarly, a 24-year-old motorcyclist was taken to a hospital right in time after his Apple Watch called for help after an accident.

Non-Apple Watch Alternatives with Fall Detection Feature

Fall Detection is a complex feature that requires several algorithms to detect a hard fall and contact emergency services. While not many watches offer this feature, you still have some non-Apple options available in the market.

Starting Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, Samsung introduced a fall detection feature that uses a similar technique. It has been refined further on the Galaxy Watch 4.

Users can set the sensitivity of the fall detection, which can detect falls and send SOS messages. You can send these emergency messages to pre-loaded contacts that you can edit from the phone app.

Another watch that comes with this feature is Kanega Watch. It is a smartwatch by UnaliWear and can detect falls accurately by using Artificial Intelligence to monitor body movements over time. This watch uses data to get more accurate as you use it.

Wrapping Up

This was all about the fall detection feature in Apple Watch and how it works. We also discussed the alternatives to the Apple Watch that has this feature. What do you think about this feature, let us know in the comments below! Stay tuned for more such insightful articles.


Himanshu Kansal

Himanshu roams around the Internet to find the latest happenings in Tech Industry to stay updated about everything Tech. Apart from being a Tech Writer, he also makes content on YouTube and is passionate about Smartphones and Gadgets.