Apple Watch could become lifesaving pool attendant


Apple Watch could become lifesaving pool attendant
What if your Apple Watch could sense if you are drowning and alert people nearby?
Drawing: Apple

Apple is investigating whether its wearable can prevent some of 4,000 drowning deaths every year in the United States. An engineer proposed a system for an Apple Watch to detect if the swimmer wearing it is in distress and send an alert to nearby iPhones.

The plan fits with Apple’s goal to bring more health-related features to Apple Watch.

Apple Watch as digital lifeguard

Drowning statistics are sobering. In addition to the thousands that die, twice as many near drownings occur every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And many of these result in brain damage and other serious outcomes.

In hopes of helping, Apple filed for a patent on a “Wearable Device Used as Digital Pool Attendant” (PDF).

The documentation lays out the goal: “What is needed is a more simple and cost-effective solution to drowning prevention systems that can be deployed in every type of freshwater pool, including public and private swimming pools and also natural pools.”

The solution proposed by the patent involves, “sending an alarm message to nearby devices when a non-swimmer or small child unknowingly enters a deeper area of a swimming pool, sudden fatigue of a swimmer due to specific health issues, heart attack of a swimmer during a swim.”

Of course, the challenge is determining the difference between someone happily swimming and a swimmer in distress. Biljana Badic, the engineer who developed the patent for Apple, proposes using sensors already built into Apple Watch to look for certain conditions.

These include a sudden increase in heart rate paired a sudden drop in blood oxygen level. The wearable would also be looking out for the wearer making irregular motions.

For an Apple Watch to act as a pool attendant, there would also need to be a method to put the wearable into contact with nearby iPhones so they could automatically receive an audible distress message.

Apple patents are sometimes moonshots

A patent application isn’t a guarantee that Apple intends to turn an idea into a future product. The company regularly patents concepts and designs that never make it into the real world. And Apple receives a lot of patents.

Nevertheless, the company is hard at work on watchOS 11. Having the (rumored) Apple Watch X become a lifesaving pool attendant is a possibility.

via: Patently Apple


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