Good intentions: iPhones are calling 911 when users are on rollercoasters

Good intentions gone awry: iPhones are calling 911 when users are on rollercoasters

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So much for good intentions: A new feature in Apple Inc.’s iPhone 14 calls 911 when users are on rollercoaster rides.

Apple debuted a feature called Crash Detection in iPhone 14 models in September, a feature that uses a dual-core accelerometer and a high dynamic-range gyroscope to detect a severe car crash and automatically call emergency services when a user is knocked unconscious. The service also uses components such as the barometer, which can detect if an airbag had deployed, and the microphone, which can determine if loud noises also accompanied the sudden change in speed such as in a crash.

The last “feature” is where Apple’s good intentions fail. The Wall Street Journal reports that iPhone 14s keep calling 911 when users are on rollercoasters at amusement parks. In Warren County, Ohio, the home of the Kings Island amusement park, local authorities have now recorded six iPhone crash-detection calls from rides at the park. Similar alerts have also been recorded at another park near Chicago.

Although the Journal report notes that it could be considered funny by some, there “is nothing funny about busy emergency-services workers — and in some cases friends and family — accidentally being alerted to a tragedy that never happened.”

When the feature is triggered, the phones contact 911 with an automated message stating that “the owner of this iPhone was in a severe car crash and is not responding to their phone” not once but seven times. Emergency services teams are typically deployed, wasting time and valuable resources.

Apple’s good intentions coupled with a failure to execute correctly don’t stop there. The Journal also noted that the new iPhone has also been known to make 911 calls after they were dropped while driving or right after.

The feature may be making false calls to 911 — a crime in most if not all states — but there are also some examples of the feature saving lives. Authorities were alerted to a fatal crash in Nebraska earlier this month that involved the death of six young occupants.

The iPhone 14 range has only been on sale since Sept. 16 and some odd teething issues are not completely unexpected, though Apple was once considered highly for its quality control. Apple will likely look to address the problem with a software update in the near future.

Photo: Jeremy Thompson/Flickr

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