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Future Apple Watches to send emergency alerts if wearer drowns, tech giant files new patent

Apple is exploring the possibility of equipping future versions of the Apple Watch with a potentially life-saving feature: the ability to detect if a wearer is drowning in water.

A new patent application from the Cupertino-based tech giant outlines a system that utilizes the smartwatch’s existing sensors to identify “irregular behavior” indicative of distress while swimming.

According to the patent application filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the feature aims to address the significant issue of drowning-related fatalities, which account for thousands of deaths annually in the US alone.

By leveraging the Apple Watch’s inertial sensor, the system would analyze the swimmer’s head, arms, and torso positioning to detect irregularities.

This data would be supplemented by readings from the Apple Watch’s heart rate or blood oxygen sensor, which could indicate sudden changes in heart rate or oxygen levels—potential signs of drowning.

Using a machine learning algorithm, the system would assess the likelihood of the user being distressed.

If a user is deemed to be at risk of drowning, the Apple Watch could trigger alerts to emergency services, nearby users, and lifeguards. The system could also be configured to send alerts if a child unintentionally ventures into deeper water while swimming in a pool. It’s important to note that while the feature is detailed in the patent application, it has not been confirmed whether Apple will proceed with its development and integration into future Apple Watch models.

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