Google announced Tuesday it had rolled out fall detection features for its Pixel Watch.
According to a blog post, the wearable will use its motion sensors to determine if the user has taken a hard fall. If the watch doesn’t sense any movement for about 30 seconds, it will vibrate, sound an alarm and display an on-screen notification, where users can say they’re ok or that they need assistance.
If they don’t respond after about a minute, the watch will automatically attempt to call emergency services and play an automated message. Users also have the option of talking to a 911 operator themselves if they can.
The fall detection features can be activated on the Updates page on the Watch Companion app or on the Pixel Watch in the Personal Safety app.
THE LARGER TREND
Fall detection isn’t a new trend for wearables. Apple first added the feature to its line of watches in 2018, and Samsung has a similar tool on several of its Galaxy Watch wearables.
Other digital health and tech companies have ventured into fall detection as well, particularly for senior care. In late 2021, Amazon announced it was partnering with third parties to include fall detection in its Alexa Together remote monitoring service. It currently lists compatible devices from Vayyar, SkyAngelCare or AltumView. Another company, SafelyYou, raised two funding rounds in 2021.
Google unveiled its Pixel Watch in the fall last year. Though the tech giant owns Fitbit, it’s the first watch under the Google brand.
In its announcement revealing fall detection features, Google said the wearable could tell the difference between an actual fall and vigorous activity that could trigger false alarms — a potential problem for competing Apple Watches. Last month, the New York Times reported iPhone and Apple Watch car crash detection and fall detection were sometimes inundating 911 dispatchers in skiing towns with false 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 for Pixel 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.”