The Google Pixel Watch Finally Has Fall-Detection After New Update

Google's latest update to the Pixel Watch has added a potentially life-saving feature. The watch will now detect when you've been injured and/or taken a bad fall, and proceed to get you the help you need. 

The Pixel watch itself was launched late last year, and marks Google's first foray into a crowded and competitive smartwatch market. While it has received praise for its vibrant display, fast charging, and easy-to-use UI it does have a few downsides. Its price and limited battery life being two major sticking points. The watch was pretty complete at launch, so you couldn't really accuse it of being rushed out or half-baked. But not all of its promised features were present, with some scheduled for release via software updates later down the line.

The tech giant has already added a bunch of safety features to its Pixel phones, including car crash detection and emergency broadcast alerts. The Pixel Watch already has an "Emergency SOS" feature that can be activated by pressing the crown five times. This will call the emergency services by default, though you can set it to call an emergency contact instead. But what if you're injured and incapable of pressing the watch's crown? Google's latest Pixel Watch feature accounts for that.

Fall detection is available from today

The update that enables fall detection on the Google Pixel watch becomes available from today. Once updated, the watch should be able to notice if the person wearing it takes a hard fall. If you fall over, then get up, nothing should really happen. However, if you lie still for a short period of time, the watch will think you're injured and take action. 

After around 30 seconds of inactivity, the watch will vibrate, sound an alarm, and display an on-screen notification. That notification comes with two options: the wearer can either dismiss the notification, or press a button that will put them through to the emergency services. If the wearer is unresponsive for a minute, the alarm will get gradually louder. If the alarm isn't dismissed, the watch will automatically contact the emergency services, play an automated message, then provide your location so help can arrive.

Google also claims there isn't much danger of fall detection being triggered by things like exercise. It's been trained on the body's natural reactions to falling, and "a broad variety of human and simulated fall data" was used to design the feature. Exercises that involve dropping, like burpees, were also analyzed to minimize the risk of false alarms. 

Although the risk of a false alarm is minimal at launch, it is likely to further reduce over time. The opt-in "help improve fall detection" setting Google has included will use customer data to further refine the process.

Fall detection isn't exclusive to Google

While fall detection will be a welcome addition for many safety-conscious Google Pixel owners, it isn't a game-changing feature in the wider smartwatch market. In fact, it's arguably a standard safety feature on most high-end smartwatches these days. As with many things, Apple actually pioneered the feature on its Apple Watch 4 way back in 2018

The Apple Watch's fall detection feature works the same way as Google's. If the watch believes you've taken a tumble, an alert will be displayed on screen. If that alert isn't dismissed within a certain time frame, the watch will automatically call for help.

Samsung isn't too far behind Apple when it comes to safety features like fall detection. The South Korean company added the safety feature to its Galaxy Watch range back in 2020. As you would expect, it functions in a similar way to the other tech giants' interpretations of it.

Of course, the Pixel Watch only launched late last year and it marks Google's first foray into the smartwatch market — so you can't really blame them for playing catch up. However, it could also be seen as a solid indication of how well established some of the market's main players are, and how much further Google still has to go.