Google’s Pixel Watch received a conflicting response when it was introduced in October of last year. The absence of safety features like “fall detection” was a major factor, but other problems like poor battery life and sporadic bugs were also to blame. But much sooner than expected, the company has now made the fall detection update available. Google has kept its promise and made the feature accessible to users, despite previously predicting a winter 2023 rollout. This puts the Pixel Watch on par with what Apple and Samsung have to offer.
The Pixel Watch will vibrate, sound an alarm, and show a message checking on you on the screen if it detects a potential fall and your lack of movement for about 30 seconds. If it wasn’t a serious fall, tap the “I’m OK” button to dismiss the alert; if you need 911 to be called, tap “I fell and need help.” In any other case, the sound will recur for about a minute, gradually getting louder in the closing seconds. By then, if you still haven’t responded to the alert, it will automatically call emergency services and play an automated message asking them to come to your location. Additionally, the watch will allow you to communicate with a 911 operator.
According to Google, a lot of attention has been paid to this issue in order to prevent erroneous triggers. In other words, the Pixel Watch can tell the difference between serious falls, minor stumbling, and when you are simply engaging in a strenuous activity like lifting or skiing. In order to accurately detect actual falls and reduce the possibility of false alarms, Google says it “trained this process using a broad variety of human and simulated fall data and other motion patterns.”
Google has tinkered around with the feature set of the Pixel Watch before. Google and Fitbit unveiled the latter’s premium sleep profile feature in November. (Fitbit, owned by Google, serves as the health-tracking platform for the Pixel Watch.) In a more unexpected move, Fitbit recently declared that some of its community features would be sunsetting on March 27th, a decision that ostensibly will also remove them from Pixel Watches. Owners of the Fitbit and Pixel Watch have expressed frustration with the latter, but Google may be hoping that the addition of fall detection will lessen the blows.