The Apple Watch Series 4’s ‘Fall Detection’ functionality, which utilizes the smartwatch’s gyroscope and accelerometer to detect accidental falls, must be manually enabled by users under the age of 65.
This means that in the case of the majority of Series 4 users, fall detection will be turned off by default. This news was first uncovered by Reddit user ‘No1ARSoul’ on the r/Apple subreddit, and subsequently reported on by MacRumors.
The option to flip fall detection on is found in the Emergency SOS section of the Apple Watch’s settings app. According to Apple’s support documentation, when the Watch Series 4 detects what the company classifies a “significant, hard fall,” the wearable will send haptic feedback to the user’s wrist, sound an alarm and then display an alert on its screen.
The options at this point include selecting either ‘I fell but I’m ok,’ or, ‘ I did not fall,’ and finally, ‘Emergency SOS.’ If the user remains immobile for approximately one minute, a 15-second countdown launches before emergency services and contacts are automatically called. Emergency contacts can be set up in the Medical ID section of iOS’ Health app.
Apple says that it gathered data from hundreds of different falls to create the algorithm that powers fall detection. That said, in Apple’s fall detection support document, the company also states that it’s still possible for false positives to occur.
“The more physically active you are, the more likely you are to trigger fall detection due to high impact activity that can appear to be a fall,” writes Apple.
The Watch Series 4 is Apple’s most significant revamp of the Apple Watch since its launch back in 2015. Along with an approximately 30 percent larger display, the Series 4 features new ECG heart rate functionality that isn’t yet available in Canada, a faster processor, new watch faces and a Digital Crown that features haptic feedback.