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Lamber: life-saving features hidden in devices you ought to know about

photo of life-saving author Marc Lamber
Marc Lamber, above, is a public safety advocate and Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent-rated trial attorney at Phoenix-based Fennemore. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress)
By Marc Lamber | Point of View

Picture this: You’re engrossed in your favorite TV show when your Apple Watch vibrates urgently. The message reads, “Mom has experienced a hard fall.”

I suspect a lot of people may not know this life saving feature, and others like it, exist in our devices. As someone dedicated to public safety, I’ve delved into these hidden treasures. Here’s the scoop on some of my favorites (I have no personal interest in any of them).

Apple Watch’s Fall Detection: Equipped with a cutting-edge sensor, the Apple Watch SE and Series 4 or later can detect a hard fall. Upon sensing this, it nudges the watch wearer with a tap, sounds an alarm, and prompts an alert. If no response is registered, it initiates a 30-second countdown, alerting the watch wearer throughout.

At the end of this period, Apple Watch contacts emergency services and designated emergency contacts. Pro tip: Ensure your emergency contacts are updated and inform them of their role. If someone’s emergency contact lives far, have a backup plan or person nearby for them.

Android’s SOS Feature: Triggering the Emergency SOS on Android devices kickstarts a video recording using both front and rear cameras for up to 45 minutes. One can still be on the phone during this time. After the recording is finished, it is safely tucked away in Google Drive. Plus, an Android phone’s lock screen can display crucial medical data like blood type, allergies, and medications, ensuring medical professionals have critical information in emergencies.

Apple’s Car Crash Detection: Today’s Apple phones models 14 and later, coupled with the Apple Watch Series 8, 9, and SE, possess an uncanny ability to detect car crashes. Upon such detection, they instantly alert emergency services, bridging the crucial time-gap. If the person involved in the crash is wearing AirPods and they can’t reach their phone, if they are conscious, they can call a loved one.

I’m a fan of apps that can help keep my family safe and encourage safety. For example:

Soli: A safety net for single women, mothers, and college students. It connects users to local guardians who can spring into action if needed. If help is requested, the app connects the user with three guardians closest to her. The user and the guardians can talk or video chat and the police can be called directly through the app.

Noonlight: This app is free and is great for high school students or anyone who often goes into unfamiliar or unsafe areas. If a panic situation arises, just open the app and hold the button. If the button is released and the user does not enter their PIN within 10 seconds, Noonlight will notify police of the user’s exact location.

However, a word of caution: These tech safety tools hinge on proper setup and connectivity. Regularly test these features in controlled environments, and always ensure a stable data, WiFi, or Bluetooth connection. If the device or app requires emergency contacts, think that through. If you live in California and your emergency contact lives in Arizona, are they really the best emergency contact for Apple crash and fall detection?

In today’s tech-driven world, safety is literally at our fingertips – if we know these tools exist. By understanding and using these technologies to our advantage, we can make our world a little safer.

Editor’s Note: Marc Lamber is a public safety advocate and Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent-rated trial attorney.

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