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Apple Watch Series 4 fall detection summons emergency services, saves elderly man

A Norwegian man survived a midnight fall to the floor of his bathroom and skull fractures because the fall detection feature on his Apple Watch Series 4 summoned help.

The man, 67-year-old Toralv Ostvang, fractured his face in three places, according to Norway's NRK. While some details of the incident are unknown, he may have fainted, and was discovered still "bloody and unconscious" when emergency crews responded to the Watch's alert beacon. The man was ultimately diagnosed with several skull fractures, and likely would not have survived the night had emergency services not been called.

Ostvang's daughter Kirsti noted that he hadn't brought his phone into the bathroom, or previously thought of using any other form of fall alert.

The motion sensors on the Series 4 allow it to detect a sudden fall and check if a person is still moving. If they don't respond to their Watch and are immobile for a full minute, watchOS will automatically ping emergency contacts with location data.

It's not clear how many other people may have been rescued by the technology beyond an incident in Sweden last October. One problem is that fall detection is off by default for people under the age of 65, since intense physical activity can trigger false alarms.

Senior health has become a marketing point for the Apple Watch. Most models can detect atrial fibrillation, and the Series 4 goes a step further in that regard with a built-in ECG lead.