Apple Advances the Apple Watch 'Fall Detection' System to include ECG info that could be sent to Emergency Services & more
Apple's first "Fall Detection" patent application surfaced back in April 2019. Then came a couple of stories that illustrated the value of having such a feature on Apple Watch in late June involving a car accident and then again in late September involving a biking accident. Apple was granted its first granted patent for this invention just last month.
Fall Detection – Audio Looping
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a second patent application from Apple relating to fall detection. The system now adds the ability to communicate ECG data of a user to emergency services that wasn't available in the original Apple Watch feature of 2018.
Apple notes that mobile devices and their applications have become so ubiquitous and useful, that people tend to utilize them throughout the day. Additionally, some mobile devices are so useful that they are worn throughout the day. Such wearable devices can track a user's physical activity and biometric statistics. They may also be configured to connect to one or more networks, such as the Internet or a cellular service provider. However, if a user, wearing a wearable device, is involved in an accident or emergency, they may not be able to access the device to call for help. While the device may be able to detect that the user is incapacitated, and may be capable of calling for help, the user may not be able to activate any emergency protocols or even communicate with emergency services – and this is what Apple's patent addresses.
Apple's patent covers techniques for audio looping information about a user to a service provider. In some examples, the user may have been involved in an accident (e.g., a fall, a medical incident (e.g., a heart attack or stroke), a car accident, or the like), and the information that is provided via the audio loop may identify the accident and/or a location of the accident. In some instances, the service provider may be an emergency service (e.g., a 911 operator or other appropriate service provider based at least in part on the location of the user).
The device may be a wearable device, such as a watch, which is capable of detecting when a user (e.g., the wearer) has fallen (or been involved in another type of accident) and has not responded within a period of time after the fall.
The device may establish a connection with the service provider, and provide the information. The information may be provided as an audio message, that can be looped repeatedly for a particular amount of time, or at least until the user has responded, the service has terminated the communication connection, or some other event occurs which signifies that the emergency is over.
One aspect of the present technology is the gathering and use of data available from specific and legitimate sources to improve the ability of user devices to assist in emergency situations by making emergency calls on behalf of the user and providing valuable information to the recipients.
Apple contemplates that in some instances, this gathered data may include personal information data that uniquely identifies or can be used to identify a specific person. Such personal information data can include demographic data, location-based data, online identifiers, telephone numbers, email addresses, home addresses, data or records relating to a user's health or level of fitness (e.g., vital signs measurements, medication information, exercise information), date of birth, or any other personal information.
Apple recognizes that the use of such personal information data, in the present technology, can be used to the benefit of users. For example, the personal information data (e.g., users health information, physical location, etc.) can be used to help emergency service responders and technicians to identify when a user needs medical attention and/or where the user is located. For example, information about previous health conditions of the user can help emergency services identify what type of medical attention is needed, and what type of technicians to send to the location of the user.
Health metrics that may be computed using the electrodes include, without limitation, heart functions (ECG, EKG), water content, body-fat ratios, galvanic skin resistance, and combinations thereof.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates a simplified block diagram illustrating an example flow for providing audio looping techniques. FIG. 2 is another simplified block diagram illustrating another example flow for providing audio looping techniques.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 below is another simplified block diagram illustrating an example architecture for providing audio looping techniques; FIG. 5 is another simplified block diagram illustrating an example architecture for providing audio looping techniques and FIG. 6 illustrates the system works with the Apple Watch.
Apple's patent application that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q3 2019. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Some of Apple's Inventors
Kevin Lynch: VP Technology
Riley Howard: Engineering Manager of the Apple Watch Team.
Chris Saari: Director Apple Watch Software
Heather Daniel: Producer Human Interface Design
Ron Huang: Senior Director, Sensing and Connectivity
Matthew Crowley: Human Interface Designer