A fall detection watch uses built-in sensors to monitor a person’s movements and determine whether they’ve fallen. Most of these devices use accelerometers to measure acceleration changes, gyroscopes to track orientation changes and barometers to detect elevation changes. They also use algorithms to differentiate between falls and other sudden movements.
These technologies aren’t perfect, and the resulting fall detectors can generate false alarms in many situations. For example, a gyroscope can trigger a false alarm when skiing on a snow-covered slope, and an accelerometer can trigger one when someone claps their hands together or plays tennis. These false alarms can be particularly dangerous for people who are immobile and could delay their ability to get help.
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Most of these watches offer a button that the wearer can press to manually alert a monitoring center and loved ones to a possible fall. This allows them to avoid triggering a false alarm and ensure that they’re able to get help when needed.
Some of these products use GPS technology to locate the person and connect with emergency services when they’re out of range of WiFi or cellular connectivity, which is useful for those who live in rural areas. Others, such as the Apple Watch Series 4 and later series and the Samsung Galaxy Watch and Tizen OS 5.0 and later series, automatically call emergency services for the wearer when the device senses that the person hasn’t moved or responded to a tap on the screen after about a minute of inactivity.