Apple Watch's fall detection feature helps cyclist hit by a car

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Apple Watch fall detection feature helps cyclist hit by a car
If you thought the fall detection feature of the Apple Watch is just a gimmick, you should reconsider. In a typical case of “technology saves lives” the aforementioned feature helped a cyclist hit by a car get help in time.

Jay Dixon made what turned out to be a critical turn down a street in northeast England just to find himself on the ground, gasping for air. Dixon was hit by a car and sent flying off his bike, and as he hit the ground, the Fall Detection feature on his Apple Watch activated and called for help.

"I came straight off the bike and was immediately concussed," Dixon told local news service GrimsbyLive. "The driver came over to see me, but I was incredibly tired and drifting in and out of consciousness."

According to the unlucky cyclist, he’s alive because of his Apple Watch. "When I fell, my watch sent out an emergency signal to the emergency services and my partner," he said. "It had detected I'd taken a fall and sent my exact location to both parties. It tells you exactly what's happened and my partner was there within 15 minutes."


Dixon is recovering in hospital now with some cuts and bruises but intends to get back on his bike. The exact model of the Apple Watch he was wearing remains a mystery, although the feature is supported on Apple Watch SE or Apple Watch Series 4 or later.

The latest addition to Apple’s portfolio introduced an improved ability to recognize falls from bikes. It’s not the first time that the Apple Watch has saved a man’s life either. In a curious line of events, Fall detection on the Apple Watch saved the same man twice over a two-year period.

Then there was another success story with the Apple Watch saving a young man with a fractured skull. It’s not all roses, though. The feature failed hilariously on US national television a couple of years ago.

How to activate and set-up fall detection on Apple Watch

Fall Detection is automatically turned on if the birthdate you enter when setting up your Apple Watch sets your age at 55 or older. Additionally, the feature is dependent on "wrist detection" - if you have wrist detection turned off, the watch won't attempt to call your emergency number even if it detects a hard impact. Here's how to enable the feature manually:

  1. Open the Settings app on your Apple Watch.
  2. Go to SOS > Fall Detection
  3. Turn on Fall Detection by tapping on the toggle switch.

Alternatively, you can do the same on the Apple Watch app on your iPhone:

  1. Tap My Watch,
  2. Navigate to Emergency SOS
  3. Turn on Fall Detection

There are two additional option - “Always on” and “Only on during workouts”. The first one keeps fall detection active at all times, while the second one will activate the feature only during workouts. It's also worth noting that sometimes Fall Detection can give false positive results if you jump hard on the ground or in some cases even sit a bit too hard.

Fall detection is also available on Samsung Galaxy smartwatches, and after the latest update the feature has been additionally improved. You can check out all the improvements and how to set up fall detection on Galaxy Watch 4, Watch 4 Classic here.

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