Apple Watch emergency SOS could save drowning swimmers

A potential new Apple Watch emergency SOS feature described in a new patent application could help save some swimmers from drowning.

The patent describes how the Watch could detect “irregular behaviour” and automatically transmit a call for help …

Apple begins by pointing out that drowning is a major cause of accidental death, especially when it comes to children.

Every year more than 3,500 people in the United States die from drowning. Drowning is also the fifth most common cause of accidental death in the country and most people who die by drowning are children. 

The company points to the need for a swift response when someone gets into trouble in the water.

If a person is submerged 4-6 minutes in water without resuscitation, brain damage and eventually death by drowning will occur.

Apple notes that some swimming pools are equipped with underwater camera systems designed to detect a swimmer in difficulty, and alert lifeguards, but these are expensive to install, and unreliable.

Accordingly, what is needed is a more simple and cost-effective solution to drowning prevention systems that can be deployed in every type of freshwater pool, including public and private swimming pools and also natural pools (e.g., lakes, ponds, etc.) where underwater cameras would be impractical to install.

The patent application says that a wearable device like an Apple Watch would operate in more environments, be more reliable, and detect more types of problems.

For example, if the Watch is configured to note that the wearer is a non-swimmer, it can automatically send an alert if they enter a deeper part of the pool, rather than waiting for signs of distress.

Alerts can be sent to other devices (for example, friends and family members present at the pool) and can also interface with existing drowning detection and alarm systems, so that lifeguards are automatically alerted as well.

As ever, we include our usual disclaimer about Apple patenting way more things than it ever launches, but this one seems an excellent candidate for including in a future watchOS update.

Apple Watches can already detect and respond to falls, vehicle crashes, and heart problems. The company has shared stories from some of those whose lives were saved in a pair of videos, 911, what’s your emergency and Dear Apple. The first is no longer available, likely because Apple feels the second does a better job – you can watch that one below.

Via Patently Apple. Photo by Dea Andreea on Unsplash.

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