Science

How Apple’s iPhone 14 Crash Detection feature works

Apple’s latest flagship smartphone, the iPhone 14, only went on sale on September 16, yet one of its new features – Crash Detection – has already proved helpful.

On Sunday night, six people were killed in a car crash in Lincoln, Nebraska, in what police have described as the ‘worst crash in Lincoln in recent memory.’

While there were no witnesses to the crash and everyone in the car was either dead or incapacitated, one of the passenger’s iPhone 14 automatically alerted first responders to the crash.

Here’s how the Crash Detection feature works, and how to activate it on your iPhone or Apple Watch.

On Sunday night , six people were killed in a car crash in Lincoln, Nebraska, in what police have described as the ‘worst crash in Lincoln in recent memory’ 

Apple's latest flagship smartphone, the iPhone 14, only went on sale on September 16, yet one of its new features – Crash Detection – has already proved helpful

Apple’s latest flagship smartphone, the iPhone 14, only went on sale on September 16, yet one of its new features – Crash Detection – has already proved helpful

How to set up Crash Detection

Crash Detection is turned on by default for supported iPhone and Apple Watch models.

However, Apple also recommends that users take two key steps to make sure their device is able to share the information that your emergency contacts and emergency responders need.

Firstly, Apple advises setting up your Medical ID and emergency contacts in the Health app.

Next, it recommends turning on Location Services for Emergency SOS.

On your iPhone, tap Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services, and make sure Emergency Calls & SOS is turned on. 

What devices is Crash Detection available on?

Crash Detection is available on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models with the latest version of iOS.

It’s also available on the Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE (2nd generation), and Apple Watch Ultra with the latest version of watchOS.

How does Crash Detection work?

Crash Detection automatically detects when the user has been in a severe car accident and calls for emergency assistance if they are unconscious or unable to reach their phone.

Apple’s latest iPhone models feature a dual-core accelerometer – capable of detecting G-force measurements of up to 256Gs – and a new high dynamic range gyroscope.

These are used in combination with components in previous iPhone models, like the barometer, which can detect cabin pressure changes, the GPS for additional input for speed changes, and the microphone, which can recognise loud noises typified by severe car crashes.

Apple has trained its algorithms on over a million hours of real-world driving and crash record data, to be able to accurately detect when an accident has taken place.

If the user is wearing an Apple Watch, this further improves accuracy.

What happens if you’re in a crash?

When a severe car crash is detected, your iPhone or Apple Watch will sound an alarm and display an alert.

Your iPhone reads the alert, in case you can’t see the screen. If you only have your phone, the screen displays an Emergency Call slider and your phone can call emergency services.

If you're unable to respond, your device automatically calls emergency services after a 20-second delay

If you’re unable to respond, your device automatically calls emergency services after a 20-second delay

Your Apple Watch chimes and taps your wrist, and checks in with you on the screen. If you only have your watch, the screen displays an Emergency Call slider. If you have a watch with mobile data or your watch is connected to Wi-Fi, it can call emergency services.

If you have your iPhone and Apple Watch, the Emergency Call slider only appears on your watch, and the call is connected and the call audio plays from your watch.

If you’re able to, you can choose to call emergency services or dismiss the alert.

If you’re unable to respond, your device automatically calls emergency services after a 20-second delay.

If you’ve added emergency contacts, your device sends a message to share your location and let them know that you’ve been in a severe car crash.

If you’ve set up your Medical ID, your device displays a Medical ID slider, so that emergency responders can access your medical information.

How to set up Crash Detection

Crash Detection is turned on by default for supported iPhone and Apple Watch models.

However, Apple also recommends that users take two key steps to make sure their device is able to share the information that emergency contacts and emergency responders need.

Firstly, Apple advises setting up your Medical ID and emergency contacts in the Health app.

Next, it recommends turning on Location Services for Emergency SOS.

On your iPhone, tap Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services, and make sure Emergency Calls & SOS is turned on. 

Cops are alerted to killer crash by new iPhone 14 feature that senses accidents and calls 911: Five men and one woman in the car – all in their 20s – are killed after car slams into tree in Nebraska

  • Six people in their 20s were killed in a car crash in Lincoln, Nebraska on Sunday
  • The group of friends were driving home when their Honda collided with a tree at 2.15am 
  • Immediately, the iPhone 14’s crash detection feature alerted emergency services
  • People living on the street who were woken by the sound of the crash then emerged from their homes to help
  • Police have described as ‘the worst crash in Lincoln in recent memory’
  • Emergency responders were called to the scene automatically by a passenger’s iPhone 14 after the car crashed into a tree early on Sunday morning

The new crash detection feature on iPhones 14 alerted police to a tragic wreck on Sunday that left all six young passengers in the vehicle dead.

Officers say the the black Honda Accord slammed into a tree in Lincoln, Nebraska, in the early hours of the morning. 

Five men died at the scene at around 2.15am, while a 24-year-old woman was left in critical condition and died later at a nearby hospital.

In the immediate aftermath of the crash, an iPhone 14 belonging to one of the passengers alerted emergency services to the scene. 

The iPhone feature meant first responders were made aware of the incident, despite there being no other witnesses to what police have described as ‘the worst crash in Lincoln in recent memory.’

The 22-year-old driver has not been named. 

The other victims were one 21-year-old, one 23-year-old and two 22-year-olds – including a man by the name of Jonathan Koch.

It’s unclear what caused the crash, or where the group was driving when it occurred. 

Six people in their 20s were killed in a car crash in Lincoln, Nebraska on Sunday

Six people in their 20s were killed in a car crash in Lincoln, Nebraska on Sunday

Police have described as 'the worst crash in Lincoln in recent memory'

Police have described as ‘the worst crash in Lincoln in recent memory’

The iPhone 14 features a new sensor with a high-G-force accelerometer that detects when the user has been in a car crash, such as 'side impact, rear end collision and rollovers'

The iPhone 14 features a new sensor with a high-G-force accelerometer that detects when the user has been in a car crash, such as ‘side impact, rear end collision and rollovers’

Brad Bartak told WOWT that the crash happened on his front lawn. His son and daughter ran into his room saying that someone had ‘hit out tree’.

Six people died in the crash in Lincoln, Nebraska including 22-year-old Jonathan Koch

Six people died in the crash in Lincoln, Nebraska including 22-year-old Jonathan Koch

He and his other neighbors jumped into action, and tried to help before the first responders arrived. ‘I noticed that there was actually a fire coming from the engine… I basically grabbed the garden hose and ran it up to the car and we were dousing it,’ he told the news outlet. 

Emergency responders were working at the scene for at least five hours after they arrived, onlookers said. 

Upon hearing the news of the tragic crash, families and friends gathered at the scene on Bartak’s lawn. KETV reported the scene was littered with shredded tree bark. The local news outlet said skidmarks could be seen along the road leading up to the tree where the car crashed. Officers say the car slammed into the tree, but further details have not yet been revealed.

Tributes poured in for Koch from those who gathered there. Jonathan’s sister, Kayla Kelley, said: ‘Life is so short. In the blink of an eye, the world is just shattering around you.’ She added: ‘He was the most amazing person you’d ever meet.’

She described her brother as a man who loved his family, drawing, and to go out and spend time with his friends. He was charismatic and knew no strangers, she said.

Kelley later posted a tribute to her brother on Facebook: ‘As I’m sitting in your bedroom mustering enough strength to write something so beautiful for you nothing I say will bring you back or show the entire universe just how amazing you are!

‘My heart and my families is shattered into a million pieces! We are all beyond devastated, our entire world blew up like a bomb in a blink of an eye,’ she wrote.

Kaleigh Keown, another of Koch’s sisters, changed her Facebook profile picture to a photograph of her and her brother wearing Nebraska Cornhuskers football jerseys.

Although the cause of the crash remains under investigation, police explained how they were called after the iPhone detected it had been in a crash and called first responders automatically when the user didn’t react. 

The iPhone 14 features a new sensor with a high-G-force accelerometer that detects when the user has been in a car crash, such as ‘side-impact, rear-end collision, and rollovers.’ 

The feature, dubbed ‘crash detection,’ only activates when traveling in a vehicle. 

HOW DOES IPHONE 14 CRASH DETECTION WORK?

The iPhone 14 introduced a new ‘crash detection’ feature that automatically detects when the user has been in a severe car accident and calls for emergency assistance if they are unconscious or unable to reach their phone.

Apple’s latest iPhone models feature a dual-core accelerometer – capable of detecting G-force measurements of up to 256Gs – and a new high dynamic range gyroscope.

These are used in combination with components in previous iPhone models, like the barometer, which can detect cabin pressure changes, the GPS for additional input for speed changes, and the microphone, which can recognise loud noises typified by severe car crashes.

Apple has trained its algorithms on over a million hours of real-world driving and crash record data, to be able to accurately detect when an accident has taken place.

If the user is wearing an Apple Watch, this further improves accuracy.

When a severe crash is detected, the emergency services call interface will appear on Apple Watch, as it is most likely to be in closer proximity to the user, while the call is placed through iPhone if it is in range for the best possible connection.

‘This is the worst crash in Lincoln in recent memory,’ Lincoln Police Assistant Chief Michon Morrow said. ‘We’ve been trying to think of another accident this bad and we haven’t come up with anything.’ 

‘I’ve been with this department for 25 years and can’t remember anything as horrible. The cause of this accident is going to take us some time to pin down,’ Morrow added. 

‘We are looking at all possibilities, including alcohol, speed or distracted driving.’  

So far, investigators have not been able to find witnesses to the crash, which happened near 5600 Block of Randolph Street in Lincoln. The vehicle is believed to have been travelling eastbound when it struck the tree.

The Lincoln Police Department has asked for anyone with additional information or video of the incident to contact the LPD non-emergency number at 402-441-6000 or Crime Stoppers at 402 475-3600.

Writing on Twitter after the crash, Lincoln Police wrote: ‘Lincoln Police fatality investigators are still working to notify family members and collect evidence in a tragic overnight collision at 56th and Randolph Street. Five men were pronounced deceased. A woman was taken to the hospital in life-threatening condition.’

In a later update, the force added: ‘Sadly, the woman who was transported to the hospital has succumbed to the injuries she sustained in the crash. This is the worst crash in Lincoln in recent memory. Our hearts are heavy for the victim’s families.’ 

The iPhone 14 was released to the US market on September 16, with technology that can detect when users are in a car crash and automatically call emergency services.

This is thanks to a dual-core accelerometer that can detect G-force measurements when vehicles are hit. However, accelerometers are in most smartphones to detect screen orientation, and the car crash detection capability has been available on Google Pixel phones since 2019.  

The crash occurred early on Sunday morning in Lincoln Nebraska

The crash occurred early on Sunday morning in Lincoln Nebraska 

Police are still looking for witnesses in the crash but and far say they have no idea as to the cause

Police are still looking for witnesses in the crash but and far say they have no idea as to the cause


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