Image source: Apple

Apple’s fall detection feature is triggering false emergency calls at ski areas

The fall detection feature of the Apple Watch Series 4 is creating frustration amongst emergency dispatch centers at ski resorts across Colorado.

Essential reading: Hit the slopes with this connected tech

In early 2018, the Cupertino outfit updated its watch software to enable the device to track skiing and snowboarding. Several third party apps took advantage of the functionality allowing users to log vertical descent and horizontal distance; number of runs; average and maximum speeds; total time spent and calories burned directly on the Apple Watch Activity app.

But a news report from CBS Denver says skiers sporting Series 4 watches are accidentally triggering false emergency calls. Apparently, the fall detection feature on the device is setting off the alarm when they take a tumble. Blissfully unaware, skiers are continuing down the slope not realizing their watch has just dialed emergency services.

Needless to say, this is causing much frustration. Emergency dispatch centers are scrambling crews to GPS locations provided by the watch, taking up valuable resources.

“If that call comes in and we are in the middle of an accident with 50 or 60 phone calls on the accident, those calls are coming in people that actually have emergencies are being put on hold to answer these 911 calls that aren’t.” said Bonnie Collard to Vail dispatch supervisor.

Fall detection on the Series 4 watch is off by default unless you are 65 or over. But anyone can enable the functionality via the Apple Watch app.

Apple’s fall detection feature triggering false emergency calls at ski areas
Image source: Apple

Here’s how it works. There is more than one way to trip, slip or fall and Series 4 can identify a number of them based on your wrist trajectory and impact acceleration. The watch then asks if you are ok and give you option to contact emergency. If you don’t respond within 1 minute, it will initiate an emergency call for you.

The problem is on the ski slopes it’s easy to miss that fall detection has been triggered. Many users simply fail to realize the call has been made.

Therefore, if you’re planning on heading to the slopes, it might be a good idea to switch off the feature. It’s simple enough to do. Just tap on My Watch/Emergency SOS and toggle Fall Detection to “Off”.

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Dusan Johnson

Dusan is our dedicated sports editor which means he gets to indulge his two passions: writing and gadgets. He never leaves his house without a minimum of two wearable devices to monitor his every move.

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