- Apple introduced its latest Watch this week, the Series 8, and there's something there for drivers who don't have a built-in automatic emergency service in their vehicle.
- The new Watch uses a new accelerometer and gyroscope, along with other data, to detect a crash, and it can then automatically tell emergency responders that you've had an incident and where you are.
- USAA has a similar feature in its SafePilot app, which has been quietly identifying crashes since being introduced last November.
Today's connected cars are already experts at contacting emergency services when a crash happens. But now you can get a similar service in an older vehicle or one that simply doesn't have that tech onboard—as long as you are wearing the new Apple Watch.
Apple's new Watch debuted this week and, amid a slew of health updates, it introduced a new feature called Crash Detection. Crash Detection is similar to Fall Detection, which Apple Watches have had since Series 4, which can tell if you’ve fallen and automatically contact emergency services if you need help.
The new Apple Watch uses a high-g-force accelerometer that can detect up to 256 g's of impact. The Watch combines the data from this new accelerometer with information from a three-axis gyroscope, the microphone, a barometer, and GPS data. The data gets crunched by an algorithm that was trained by observing more than a million hours of real-world driving and crash data, Apple said, to figure out if you’ve been in a "severe crash." The feature is available on the new Series 8 watch and even on the bargain-priced SE model.
Since the watch is connected to the cellular network on its own or through your iPhone, it can also contact emergency services and tell them where you are, if you're in an area with cellular coverage. Any emergency contacts in your phone can also be contacted.
Insurer USAA Adds Crash Detection
A similar automatic crash detection service was announced last month for the USAA insurance company's SafePilot app. Sensors in a phone are different from those in a smartwatch, and USAA said that its app requires the driver to verify that a crash has indeed happened. The auto insurer said in a statement that letting an app automatically detect a crash can simplify and expedite the claims process, and you can even file a claim on the spot, "via a streamlined process." USAA said it quietly launched crash detection in the SafePilot app in November 2021 and the app has already made more than 36,000 crash notifications since that time.
"The traditional claim process can be highly manual and involves a series of questions and answers to properly investigate the claim," Luke Harris, USAA's vice president of innovation, told Digital Insurance. “The availability of telematics data provides insights into accidents that can help reduce the number of questions and time involved in investigating the event, which allows our claims team to focus their time on addressing our members’ specific needs and streamlining the process of getting them back on the road.”
Another automatic crash detection option comes from Verizon, which offers the service on its Smart Family app for parents to be alerted to possible accidents for children who are new drivers.
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