Crash Detection System on iPhone 14 Malfunctions by Sending False Alerts From Skiers
- Dec 27, 2022
Apple’s latest iPhone 14 and Apple Watch models feature a revolutionary new Crash Detection feature. This feature is designed to detect when a user has been in a serious accident and send an alert to their emergency contacts. It uses a combination of sensors and algorithms to detect when the user has experienced a sudden impact. This feature can automatically call 911 if the user has been in a severe car accident.
Apple’s Crash Detection feature on the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE 2022, and Apple Watch Series 8 has been sending out a deluge of false alarms due to skiers and snowboarders triggering the feature while on the slopes. This has put a strain on emergency resources, as dispatchers must field these automated notifications, and ski patrollers may have to travel to the location of the automated call if the skier does not answer.
In December, dispatchers at the Summit County 911 Center in Colorado were having to deal with the issue of false alarms from skiers’ Apple devices. Trina Dummer, the interim director of the Summit County 911 Center, said that these calls involve a tremendous amount of resources and that they had never had an actual emergency event. All of the automatic 911 calls were triggered by skiing or snowboarding accidents, but this still impacts the availability of resources as dispatchers must handle each call in order of arrival.
Apple released refinements to the Crash Detection feature with the iOS 16.2 update, but unfortunately, this has not fully solved the problem. Emergency dispatchers in Utah have reported receiving between three to five Apple crash alerts per day, and British Columbia search and rescue teams are also complaining about multiple false alarms. These false alarms can cost responders as much as $10,000, and some have asked Apple to make Crash Detection an opt-in feature to reduce the chances of false positives.
Apple has acknowledged the issue and has been working to address it. They have released a number of updates to the feature in an attempt to reduce the number of false alarms. However, they have yet to solve the issue completely.
It is clear that Apple’s Crash Detection feature is an important tool, as it could potentially help people in a real emergency, but it is clear that the feature still needs improvement. The issue stems from the phone’s reliance on its built-in accelerometer and gyroscope to detect sudden changes in movement and speed, which can be triggered by activities such as skiing. Apple is aware of the issue and has taken steps to address it, but it remains to be seen if the new algorithms and disable option will be enough to stop the false alarms.