Future iterations of the Apple Watch might be able to detect if you are drowning and even automatically call emergency services for you.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Tim Cook has stated that one of his goals is for the Apple Watch to become a must have health and fitness device. The timepiece keeps tabs on your heart rate 24/7 and sends out irregular heart rate alerts as well as notifications when your heart rate is too high or too low. There’s an ECG sensor on-board and the watch will even monitor for trips and falls.
An upcoming health feature that will reportedly come as part of watchOS7 is blood oxygen monitoring. This will keep tabs on how well oxygen is sent to parts of the body such as arms and legs. The good news for older Apple Watch owners is that the sensor already has the necessary smarts so they will benefit from the upgrade, too.
Now we have news of another potential life saving feature. As first spotted by Apple Insider, the Cupertino-outfit has filed a patent on April 14th for sensors that might be able to identify if a you’re drowning. All the details can be found on the US Patent Office website, under application number 10,617,358.
The device has had water-proofing for a while now and is able to keep track of your swim sessions. But the filing is for a new combination of sensors on the Apple Watch or another device. These would be able to detect the presence of water, its volume and even toxicity.
This could have a multitude of uses. More simple ones could just be determining if it’s raining outside. If it is, the watch could launch a weather app to let you know when the rain will stop. Or let you know when to take out an umbrella, something you should know anyway by the time you read the message.
More importantly, this combination of sensors has the ability to determine the volume of water. Put more simply, it knows if you’re sweating, standing in the rain or swimming. The watch could pit that info against calendar entries to figure out if you’re simply scuba-diving or have fallen overboard on a cruise. If the watch suspects something is amiss, it could automatically message emergency services with your GPS location and an SOS.
Other sensors could kick in, as well, to test the properties of the liquid. This would be done via openings which could be located in the watch and band to determine whether there’s presence of dangerous pathogens and chemicals. It could also simply be figuring out if the water is fresh and you’re simply in your bath, or salt and you are in the ocean.
“A particularly beneficial, but by no means only, use of the electronic device is one in which the electronic device determines that a body of water is nearby,” says the patent,
“and based upon an anticipated context of use, the electronic device can determine which properties of the water and/or surrounding environment would be relevant to the user and in particular the health of the user.”
The patent predominantly talks about a smartwatch with these features. There are mentions of other devices, so some of this functionality could potentially be ported over into future smartphones.
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