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Google Pixel Watch gets a key Apple Watch safety feature

Google has brought fall detection to the Pixel Watch, enabling users to contact the emergency services quickly and easily if they take a tumble.

The feature, which has been available on the Apple Watch for a number of years now, uses the Pixel Watch’s motion sensors to pick up on movement that replicates a hard fall.

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It’ll be activated automatically if the wearer takes a fall and doesn’t move for 30 seconds thereafter. From there, the watch will sound an alarm and users will be presented a simple one-tap choice on screen: “I fell and need help” or “I’m ok”.

The former will contact the emergency services on your behalf. If you fail to respond after a minute, it’ll do likewise, but play an automated message that requests help. It’ll use location data to enable the emergency services to track the user down.

Google says the feature has been tested vigorously to guard against false positives and, as it’s Google, it’s no surprise that machine learning is involved.

“Your Pixel Watch knows the difference between taking a hard fall and performing a vigorous physical activity or even quickly recovering from a small stumble — thanks to our machine learning algorithms and rigorous testing,” the company says in a blog post.

“The motion sensors and algorithms can monitor for a sudden impact and your body’s responses and instinctive reactions to falling. We trained this process using a broad variety of human and simulated fall data and other motion patterns to accurately detect real falls and minimise potential false alarms.

“We also tested this feature against high-energy activities that involved impact, sudden drop or excessive arm movements — think activities like burpees, jumping or swimming — to avoid those types of activities from triggering a false notification.”

The feature is rolling out now to Pixel Watch owners. You can turn it on within the Watch Companion app or in the Personal Safety app directly on the Pixel Watch itself.

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