Apple Responds to Video Testing Crash Detection Feature With Junkyard Vehicles

The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern recently traveled to Michigan to test Apple's new crash detection feature on the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Ultra. In response, Apple provided some additional information about how the feature works.


Stern recruited Michael Barabe to crash his demolition derby car with a heavy-duty steel frame into two unoccupied vehicles parked in a junkyard — a 2003 Ford Taurus and a 2008 Dodge Caravan. The results were mixed, with the iPhone and Apple Watch only detecting some of the crashes, which Apple said was the result of the testing conditions in the junkyard failing to provide enough "signals" to trigger the feature every time.

When I contacted Apple with the results, a company spokesman said that the testing conditions in the junkyard didn't provide enough signals to the iPhone to trigger the feature in the stopped cars. It wasn't connected to Bluetooth or CarPlay, which would have indicated the car was in use, and the vehicles might not have traveled enough distance prior to the crash to indicate driving. Had the iPhone received those extra indicators—and had its GPS shown the cars were on a real road—the likelihood of an alert would have been greater, he said.

Apple says its crash detection feature relies on "advanced Apple-designed motion algorithms trained with over a million hours of real-world driving and crash record data." Stern outlined the various hardware sensors and software algorithms that assist with detecting a crash on supported iPhone and Apple Watch models:

• Motion sensors: All the devices have a three-axis gyroscope and high-g force accelerometer, which samples motion more than 3,000 times a second. It means the devices can detect the exact moment of impact and any change in motion or trajectory of the vehicle.

• Microphones: The mics are used to detect loud sound levels that might indicate a crash. The microphones are only turned on when driving is detected, and no actual sound is recorded, Apple says.

• Barometer: If the air bags deploy when the windows are closed, the barometer can detect a change in air pressure.

• GPS: Readings can be used to detect speeds prior to a crash and any sudden lack of movement, as well as inform the device that it's traveling on a road.

• CarPlay and Bluetooth: When connected, these give the algorithms another signal that the phone is on board a car, so it knows to look out for a crash.

Crash detection is enabled by default on the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max, Apple Watch Series 8, second-generation Apple Watch SE, and Apple Watch Ultra. The feature can be found in the Settings app under Emergency SOS → Call After Severe Crash and is not available on older iPhone and Apple Watch models.

Apple's website says that the crash detection feature is designed to detect "severe" car crashes, such as "front-impact, side-impact, and rear-end collisions, and rollovers" involving "sedans, minivans, SUVs, pickup trucks, and other passenger cars." Apple warns that the feature "cannot detect all car crashes," so it is not failproof.

When a severe car crash is detected, a supported iPhone or Apple Watch displays an alert and sounds an alarm, according to Apple. If a user is able, they can call emergency services by swiping the Emergency Call slider on the iPhone or Apple Watch, or dismiss the alert. If they do not respond to the alert after 10 seconds, the device begins another 10-second countdown. If they still haven't responded, the device calls emergency services.

Apple says if a severe car crash is detected, users will interact with the Apple Watch if they are wearing one. Otherwise, users interact with the iPhone.

All in all, while Stern said her test was not exactly scientific, it is reassuring that the feature detected some of the crashes. However, tests involving stationary vehicles in a controlled environment can never truly replicate an on-street collision.

Related Forums: iPhone, Apple Watch

Top Rated Comments

BootsWalking Avatar
10 weeks ago
You're crashing it wrong.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KPOM Avatar
10 weeks ago
Any feature that would detect every crash would also throw false alarms frequently.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NARadyk Avatar
10 weeks ago

Next year Airplane crash detection tests please

And nuclear strike detection...
Meteor test detection will be a hoot.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
breather Avatar
10 weeks ago
We need the Mythbusters on this..
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MayaUser Avatar
10 weeks ago
Next year Airplane crash detection tests please
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
coolfactor Avatar
10 weeks ago

I have owned every Apple Watch until recently. They are all buggy... if not the most consistently buggy product I can think of from Apple. Admittedly, I gave away my last Apple Watch a few months go out of frustration and, with an iPhone 13 Pro, one of the best iPhones ever made, I see no reason to upgrade, I do not have either of these.

Siri is buggy. Monterey is VERY buggy. iPad OS has quirks... But hey, most of the stuff works, most of the time.

I guess it's just expected that this feature will need to be matured to be reliable.
Owned an Apple Watch Series 4 for years, and no "bugs" to speak up. If you've had 3 watches that you deem "buggy", the common factor there is .... (drumroll).... the user / wearer. ?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

iPhone 14 Car Crash Detection

Apple Shows How iPhone 14's Car Crash Detection Feature Works in New Video

Monday September 12, 2022 6:10 pm PDT by
Apple today shared a video explaining how to use the new car crash detection feature enabled by default on all iPhone 14 models, the Apple Watch Series 8, the Apple Watch Ultra, and the second-generation Apple Watch SE. In a new support document published today, Apple says the crash detection feature is designed to detect severe car crashes, such as front-impact, side-impact, and rear-end...
iphone 14 pro car crash detection

Skiers Accidentally Triggering iPhone's Crash Detection Feature

Wednesday November 30, 2022 2:16 pm PST by
The Crash Detection feature built into the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, and new Apple Watch models is causing skiers to accidentally dial emergency services, according to Utah news site KSL. Designed to summon help when a car crash is detected, the Crash Detection feature can be activated at ski resorts, and Summit County dispatchers in Utah have seen an increase in 911 calls. "We will get a ...
iPhone 14 Pro Car Crash Detection Ad

Apple Executives Offer Closer Look at iPhone 14's Crash Detection

Monday October 10, 2022 6:55 am PDT by
In a new interview, two Apple executives have offered a deeper dive into the iPhone 14's new Crash Detection feature, which can detect if a user has been involved in a car accident and automatically contact emergency services and contacts. During the interview with TechCrunch's Brian Heater, Apple's vice president of worldwide iPhone product marketing, Kaiann Drance, and the company's vice...
iPhone 14 Car Crash Detection

iPhone 14's Crash Detection Mistaking Roller Coaster Rides for Car Crashes

Sunday October 9, 2022 8:15 am PDT by
The iPhone 14's Crash Detection feature is accidentally being triggered and therefore calling emergency services when users are riding a roller coaster rather than being involved in a real automotive accident. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, several users of the new iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro at amusement parks across the United States have reported emergency services and contacts...
crash test crash detection

YouTuber Crash-Tests iPhone 14's Crash Detection Feature – and It Works

Wednesday September 21, 2022 1:19 am PDT by
A YouTuber has quite literally crash-tested the iPhone 14's Crash Detection feature and found Apple's new emergency SOS function to reliably kick into action in the event of a controlled vehicle collision. Serial gadget-smasher TechRax today published a video (embedded below) in which his team can be seen remotely controlling a driverless car containing an iPhone 14 Pro strapped to the...
iphone 13 display pro max

iOS 16 Safety Feature Already Being Tested Using Millions of Devices

Friday December 17, 2021 3:13 am PST by
Apple is working on a "crash detection" feature using data from million of iPhones and Apple Watches that could launch in 2022, according to a recent report. Citing internal company documents and people said to be familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported last month that the new feature could use the iPhone and Apple Watch to automatically detect when a user is involved in a ...
maxresdefault

Apple Highlights iPhone 14 Pro's Car Crash Detection Feature and More in New Ad

Friday September 9, 2022 11:15 am PDT by
Apple today shared its first ad for the iPhone 14 Pro, highlighting new features like car crash detection, the upgraded rear camera system with a 48-megapixel main lens, and an always-on display with the new Dynamic Island feature. "iPhone 14 Pro comes with Crash Detection, a vital new safety feature that can detect a severe car crash and automatically call for help, even when you can't,"...
Apple car wheel icon feature blue

Apple Car Project Scaled Back and Delayed, Won't Feature Full Self-Driving Capabilities

Tuesday December 6, 2022 11:05 am PST by
Apple has scaled back its Apple Car project and the company no longer plans to release a fully self-driving vehicle, reports Bloomberg. Apple wanted to create a self-driving car without a steering wheel or pedals, but has decided that such a plan is not feasible at the current time. The vehicle will have guided driving features that work on highways, but it will not be able to operate...

Popular Stories

maxresdefault

Can't Get an iPhone 14 Pro? Here's Why You Should Wait for the iPhone 15 Ultra

Monday December 5, 2022 11:44 am PST by
Due to production issues at Apple supplier factories in China, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are backordered and basically out of stock at every store. If you were planning to gift or receive an iPhone 14 Pro model for the holidays and didn't already get one, you're basically out of luck because they're gone until late December. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more ...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

iOS 16.2 for iPhone Launching This Month With These 8 New Features

Thursday December 1, 2022 8:44 am PST by
Apple plans to publicly release iOS 16.2 for the iPhone in mid-December, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The update remains in beta testing for now, with at least eight new features and changes already uncovered so far. iOS 16.2 introduces a number of new features, including Apple's new whiteboard app Freeform, two new Lock Screen widgets for Sleep and Medications, the ability to hide...
Apple car wheel icon feature yellow

Apple to Charge Under $100,000 for Apple Car, Launch Planned for 2026

Tuesday December 6, 2022 2:31 pm PST by
Apple is aiming to launch an Apple-branded consumer-oriented vehicle by 2026, and its goal is to hit a price point under $100,000 to make the car appeal to a wider range of customers, reports Bloomberg. Apple initially planned to design a car that might look similar to Canoo's Lifestyle Vehicle, where passengers could face one another in a limousine-style car with no steering wheel or...
iPhone Measure Height

Newer iPhones Allow You to Measure Someone's Height Instantly — Here's How

Saturday December 3, 2022 10:23 am PST by
iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, and iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models feature a LiDAR Scanner next to the rear camera that can be used to measure a person's height instantly in Apple's preinstalled Measure app. To measure a person's height, simply open the Measure app, point your iPhone at the person you want to measure, and make sure they are visible on the screen from...
introducing apple music sing

Apple Music Adding a Karaoke Experience With Apple Music Sing

Tuesday December 6, 2022 7:09 am PST by
Apple today announced Apple Music Sing, a new feature in Apple Music that lets users sing their favorite songs with adjustable vocals and more. Apple Music Sing will utilize Apple Music's real-time lyrics to allow users to sing to their favorite songs using adjustable vocals, background vocals, and duet view to allow more than one singer.Apple Music Sing includes: Adjustable vocals: Users...
14 vs 16 inch mbp m2 pro and max feature 1

Major RAM Upgrade Coming to Next-Generation MacBook Pro

Friday December 2, 2022 2:03 am PST by
The next-generation MacBook Pro models could feature faster RAM, according to a recent report from a reliable source. MacRumors Forums member "Amethyst," who accurately revealed details about the Mac Studio and Studio Display before those products were announced, recently provided information about Apple's upcoming 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. The new machines are expected to feature...
nothing phone 2

Nothing Plans to Launch Smartphone in US to Take on Apple's iPhone

Monday December 5, 2022 12:38 am PST by
UK-based tech company Nothing plans to launch a smartphone in the US to directly compete with Apple's iPhone, according to a new report out today. In an interview with CNBC, Nothing CEO Carl Pei said the startup is in "early conversations" with American cellular carriers about launching a new phone in the US, but he stopped short of naming any of the carriers or the phone model. Nothing...
apple ar headset concept 1

Kuo: Apple Headset Shipments Potentially Delayed Until Second Half of 2023

Sunday December 4, 2022 7:38 am PST by
Mass shipments of Apple's long-rumored AR/VR headset may be delayed until the second half of 2023 due to unspecified "software-related issues," according to the latest information shared today by tech analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple headset render by Ian Zelbo Kuo said mass shipments of components for the headset are still likely to begin in the first half of 2023, but he believes that mass...
iOS 16

When Will iOS 16.2 Launch?

Friday December 2, 2022 2:13 pm PST by
Apple in late October began testing iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 updates, providing betas to both developers and public beta testers. As of now, we've had four total betas, with the fourth beta having been released earlier this week. iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 are expected before the end of the year, and we thought we'd try to narrow down the launch timeline. With only four betas released since...