Two Apple executives offered a deeper dive into the Crash Detection feature in the new interview, which can detect if a user has been in a car accident and automatically contact emergency services.
During the interview with Brian Heater, Apple's vice president of worldwide iPhone product marketing, Kaiann Drance, and the company's vice president of sensor and connectivity, Ron Huang, shed some light on the technical aspects of how the latest iPhone and Apple Watch models actually detect.
The latest devices include updated sensors that can detect sudden changes in motion and pressure, as well as other data types from the iPhone, to send an alert. The latest iPhone models can measure G-forces up to 512Gs. Apple needed a fundamental understanding of what is experienced during a crash to develop the feature. Impact forces over 100Gs are seen in these crashes. Around 512Gs was where we began. There are tradeoffs when trying to increase that range, such as power costs and precision. The team spent a lot of time building the sensors.
The data from the gyro and accelerometer are used to understand if a user is moving in a car or involved in an accident. There is no set number of factors that need to be present in order for Crash Detection to be activated.
It's hard to say how many of these things have to trigger, because it's not a straight equation. Depending how fast the traveling speed was earlier, determines what signals we have to see later on, as well. 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 in which the newer Apple Watches don't call for help. When I was in New York, I had a fender bender. Drance said that his crash detection didn't stop. You just get out of your car and keep going. It's part of the sensor fusion and accuracy because we don't want to make a lot of false calls to the emergency services.
Despite Apple's efforts to reduce false calls to emergency services, reports have emerged that iPhone 14 devices are calling emergency services when users are on a roller coaster The false alarm calls are probably caused by the iPhone 14's sensors misinterpreting the sudden breaking and movement of the ride as a collision with another vehicle. As a result of being in a moving vehicle noise, such as engine or road noise, is one of the factors the iPhone uses.
Apple tested Crash Detection by placing the iPhone around a car with cameras to analyze the impact. The data from the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration were used by Apple to understand what types of accidents are the leading causes of injuries.
We put iPhones in many different places throughout the car — on the dummies and the car itself and mounts and so forth. And then we collect all of the raw sensor data coming from these devices during such a crash. We put cameras inside and outside the cars, as well, so from the footage, you can time the actual impact, what the pressure sensors see when the airbag goes off in slow motion. We're able to look at data in high fidelity. We also look at DATA from the Department of Transportation or the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to understand what kinds of crashes are the leading causes of injuries.
Crash Detection is available on the Apple Watches.