Image source: Garmin

Garmin’s SOS feature to be enhanced by Qualcomm & Iridium partnership

Garmin wishes to capitalize on a new technology known as Snapdragon Satellite. It has the potential to improve the reliability of its SOS feature in remote areas.

Qualcomm, a US chipmaker, announced a partnership with global satellite communications company Iridium on the technology at CES 2023. It brings satellite-based two-way messaging to premium smartphones running Android operating systems.

Snapdragon Satellite will be available in select regions beginning in the latter months of 2023. According to Qualcomm, the technology will eventually be expanded to other devices such as laptops, tablets, automobiles, and the internet of things.

Garmin is interested

The benefit of the new service is that it will be able to provide reliable messaging capabilities in areas with limited or no cellular coverage. This is useful if you sell wearables that cater to the needs of outdoor enthusiasts and athletes.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that popular sports watch manufacturer Garmin wants in. The company plans to work with Qualcomm and Iridium to support emergency messaging on a variety of their devices.

Many Garmin watches include topographic maps, GPS navigation, and support for multiple satellite systems, along with SOS features. The expanded coverage will be especially useful for activities such as hiking and mountaineering, as it will provide a more reliable service during emergency situations.

“Garmin welcomes the opportunity to expand our proven satellite emergency response services to millions of new smartphone users globally,” Garmin’s outdoor segment VP Brad Trenkle said.

Garmin SOS was first introduced more than a decade ago

Few of us take the time to consider the risks we take when we go for solo runs, hikes or rides. It can be perilous at times. Accidents do happen, unfortunately.

Garmin first introduced its SOS feature in 2011. Depending on the user’s location, it sends a distress signal to pre-designated contacts or to local emergency services. To use the feature, simply press a button on the watch for a few seconds, and the device will send out a distress signal.

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There’s also something called Incident Detection. When the timepiece on your wrist determines you have been in an accident, it will automatically send your name and location to a preset list of contacts.

This is accomplished through the use of an SMS message. Those who receive it will be able to see your location on Google Maps by clicking on the included link in the message. This makes it easier to pinpoint your location.

When Incident Detection was first made available, it was only available on a few watches and bike computers. Since then, the list has grown significantly.

Garmin Response responds to thousands of SOS calls each year, likely saving many lives in the process. The company recently released some insights based on 10,000 SOS calls to its global emergency response team over the previous ten years.

According to the statistics, hikers and backpackers accounted for 39% of all Garmin SOS calls. Climbing, boating, snowmobiling, hunting, and camping are also on the list of “high-triggering” activities. Surprisingly, cycling is far down the list.

Garmin sports watches have advanced significantly since their inception, now offering a variety of features. Emergency SOS is one that has grown in popularity over the years. When (and if) Qualcomm’s new technology is integrated into Garmin watches, it will enable access in areas of network coverage where data connectivity is currently limited.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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