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Apple Watch ‘fall detection’ feature saves the life of a hiker who had fallen down a cliff

Published Oct 22nd, 2019 3:56PM EDT
Apple Watch

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Though the Apple Watch was introduced as something of a fashion accessory, it wasn’t long before Apple pivoted and began focusing on expanding the device’s health and fitness tracking features. Interestingly enough, the transformation of the Apple Watch in this regard even caught Apple executives by surprise.

“It was very organic,” Apple COO Jeff Williams said in an interview recently. “Most people think we had this major health initiative, well, we had some notions in the beginning but no idea where it would lead. And honestly, it’s a situation where we started pulling on threads and the more we pulled, the more we realised there’s such a huge opportunity for us to impact people with the information that’s on their wrist.”

One of the more interesting and novel health-related features Apple added to its popular wearable has been “fall detection.” Originally introduced with the Apple Watch Series 4, the feature will call 911 automatically if it detects a hard fall and subsequently detects that a user has remained immobile following said fall.

Recently, this feature was used to help save the life of a New Jersey man named James Prudenciano who fell down a big cliff while on a date.

Originally brought to light by News12 New Jersey, Prudenciano and his date Paige Paruso were hiking in Hartshorne Woods Park before they ultimately got lost and found themselves on what turned out to be an unexpectedly steep and precarious cliff.

Paruso fell first, according to the report, but luckily managed to land such that she didn’t experience any significant injuries. Prudenciano, however, wasn’t as lucky. “Eventually,” the report notes, “Prudenciano fell into the river and landed on a rock. He suffered three fractures in his back, scratches and thorns that are still lodged in his foot.”

“I was screaming that I’m going to die because I really felt I was going to die,” Prudenciano said. “There was no way out of this for me. I literally said my last goodbyes.”

Thankfully, though, Prudenciano was wearing an Apple Watch and, upon detecting a hard fall, the device called 911.

Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first instance we’ve seen of the Apple Watch’s fall detection feature being used to save someone’s life. Just a few months ago, a 67-year old man in Norway suffered a serious fall in his bathroom and went unconscious, only to be saved on account of his Apple Watch calling local emergency personnel who arrived on the scene about 30 minutes later.

As a final point, it’s worth noting that an Apple Watch with LTE can make a 911 call even without an active carrier plan.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.