On Tuesday, Google launched fall detection capabilities for its Pixel Watch, as per a blog post. The wearable device will utilize its motion sensors to identify if the wearer has experienced a hard fall. If there is no movement sensed for approximately 30 seconds, the watch will vibrate, set off an alarm, and exhibit an on-screen notification. The user can indicate if they need help or if they are okay. If there is no response after roughly a minute, the device will try to contact emergency services and play an automated message. Users can also speak with a 911 operator on their own. To activate fall detection features, users can access the updates page on the Watch Companion app or the Personal Safety app on the Pixel Watch.
Wearables have been incorporating fall-detection features for some time. Apple introduced the capability to its watch series in 2018, and Samsung has similar functionality on its Galaxy Watch range. Other digital health and tech companies have also entered the fall detection space, particularly in senior care. Amazon recently announced that it is partnering with third-party firms to include fall detection in its AlexaTogether remote monitoring service. Vayyar, SkyAngelCare, and AltumView currently list compatible devices. SafelyYou, a different company, raised two funding rounds in 2021.
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Google unveiled its Pixel Watch last year. While the company owns Fitbit, the Pixel Watch is the first watch under the Google brand. Google noted in its announcement that the device can differentiate between a genuine fall and intense activity that may trigger false alarms, a concern for rival Apple Watches. According to the New York Times, last month, iPhone and Apple Watch fall detection and car crash detection were frequently inundating 911 dispatchers in skiing towns with inaccurate alerts.
"We trained this process using a broad variety of human and simulated fall data and other motion patterns to accurately detect real falls and minimize potential false alarms," Paras Unadkat, product manager for Pixel Watch, and Edward Shi, product manager forPixel Safety, wrote in Google's blog post. "We also tested this feature against high-energy activities that involved impact, sudden drop or excessive arm movements — think activities like burpees, jumping or swimming — to avoid those types of activities from triggering a false notification."