A theme park close to Cincinnati is having issues with the Crash Detection feature of the iPhone 14, as it is frequently triggering false positives from iPhones on rides, leading to multiple calls to emergency services. Crash Detection is a new safety feature for the iPhone and Apple Watch that utilizes in-device sensors and large databases of crash information to determine if the user has been in a car accident.
While the system has been trained, it appears that roller coasters may still be a potential vulnerability.
Since the release of the iPhone 14 in September, the Warren County Communications Center has received numerous calls from residents reporting crashes on their iPhones. The center claims that several were brought on by rollercoaster riders at King Island in Ohio, which is located near Cincinnati.
The facility provided the Wall Street Journal with multiple recordings of iPhone-based detection calls, all of which were triggered by the devices’ falsely attributing ride movements and noise to collisions. Six Flags Great America, also in the Chicago area, experienced similar issues, with alerts being triggered on multiple occasions.
Although the iPhone and Apple Watch provide a ten-second warning before calling 911, it may not be possible to cancel the call in time. The park guest might not hear the iPhone over the ride’s noise, or they might have stowed it away for safety. An Apple representative was quoted as saying in the report that the technology helps people rest easy and that development is ongoing.
omg Apple’s new car-crash detection is making iPhones call 911 while their owners are on a rollercoaster 🎢 https://t.co/ppS5EINXyP
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) October 9, 2022
False positives do occur naturally in everyday life, and some would argue that they are preferable to be triggered incorrectly or not at all. However, this problem could be avoided on roller coasters if riders left their devices equipped with Collision Detection features in a locker or with a non-rider.
Tests conducted by third parties have shown conflicting results when it comes to determining whether or not a given system can accurately detect a crash.
The sensors in the iPhone could have mistaken the sudden breaking and movement of roller coasters for a car crash, accidentally activating Apple’s latest safety features. At least six instances of false alarms resulting in the dispatch of emergency personnel have been documented by the Wall Street Journal.