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Bike crash left Spokane man unconscious, so his Apple Watch called 911 (seattletimes.com)
1105 points by throwaway413 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 659 comments

I bet this is a great feature (and I do have an Apple Watch), but can we please hold for a sec here? This piece reads like an Ad. Furthermore, many comments here are about "I want to see my kids grow up". Now please, calculate the odds of:

- you are in a terrible accident

- there is no one around you to call an ambulance

- you can’t call an ambulance yourself, because you are knocked out or can’t move

I think the odds for such an event are rather low. If you like smart watches, sure, go ahead and buy one. But for everybody who just wants to wear it because they are afraid: I don’t think it’s necessary for most people, unless you ride around alone in remote areas and are inexperienced or whatever.

My point is: don’t buy because of fear if your risk profile is super incredibly low.

>- you are in a terrible accident

- there is no one around you to call an ambulance

- you can’t call an ambulance yourself, because you are knocked out or can’t move

Increasingly large odds after a certain age, and not small if you do certain sports (e.g. trekking, climbing, etc) regardless of age.

In fact, older people falling accidents is so common, a proverb in a European country says: "The elderly die either from falling or while shitting" -- the original is funnier than the translation, because the two causes rhyme).

The accident doesn't have to be terrible either. Tons of run of the mill accidents leave people unconscious...

But you don't read about such cases as such.

E.g. an elder person who fell either they eventually get up in time and call for help (so you don't read any story), or they don't, and the story is "person found dead in their apartment" etc, and might or might not mention the fall...

Is it as necessary as a spare tire in your car or a fire extinguisher in your home? No. But (since the device it does other stuff too) not bad to have regardless.

Note: For certain categories, this is so needed, that there are expensive special purpose devices that are popular for certain cases (e.g. elderly with dementia, parkison, bad backs, and so on), e.g.: https://www.medicalalertadvice.com/fall-detection/

But this is a multi-purpose device, and a cool one at that, plus it has a phone attached and can call the 911 itself, and gives this ability as just another feature to everyone!

> Tons of run of the mill accidents leave people unconscious...

Indeed. My friend's grandma slipped while getting in the bathtub. They found her barely alive 3 days later when she missed her hair appointment and the stylist called her son. Previously, she was the life of the party and went to the gym almost every day. She didn't last a few days after that fall broke her hip. The outcome may have been different if she got help right away and if nothing else, she wouldn't have suffered for a few days. She was in such good physical health that nobody expected something like this to happen.

...the problem here seems more that nobody missed her for three days. So loneliness is the key issue here and an Apple watch will not fix that.

That said, having an Apple watch is certainly much cooler than wearing those emergency call devices they currently sell for old people.

>..the problem here seems more that nobody missed her for three days. So loneliness is the key issue here and an Apple watch will not fix that.

That's a problem, but I don't think that's the main takeaway from this story.

You could have a loving family and friends and still not be "missed for 3 days". 3 days are not big enough span of time for adults, in the grand scheme of things. E.g. if your wife is on vacation, or you/she work in another city, or have some deal going on, and you talk 1-2 times a week, it's easy for 2-3 days to slip by without anybody noticing you. Friends too might come by once a week or 1-2 times a month, and easily miss you for 3 days (that would already be more often than many people with close friends see them).

Heck, and even 1 day or even 2-3 hours would be enough for serious damage, if you weren't discovered after a fall/accident.

Dear god, man. The woman was "the life of the party" and went to the gym every day, and she DIED a few days after this fall. And your argument is the problem is that she was lonely and a consumer tech device won't fill the hole in her life?

This is the coldest of cold takes.

?? I really don't understand what upset you so much about my comment.

A person falls, and nobody misses her or looks after her for three days. How is this not a problem of our current society?

There are many people who are very dear to me, that I talk to once or twice a week. My parents for example. I live alone, hundreds of miles away.

If I died today, the only place that could figure it in a day or so out would be my workplace. If I didn't work, then it could be a week before my parents or friends began to suspect something.

> How is this not a problem of our current society?

You're not wrong, but it's also not unusual. Most people I know do not talk to their mom more than once every 3 days.

Likely your Apple Watch won't be able to call for help if you're injured trekking or climbing, unless there's a cell tower on the mountain.

Having personally been run over cycling, multiple passersby called 911 for me immediately, and I was in a ambulance in less than 10min.

>Likely your Apple Watch won't be able to call for help if you're injured trekking or climbing, unless there's a cell tower on the mountain.

Don't know about the US, but in several mountains I've been on around the world (not in developing countries though), signal was just fine. It might not work for Everest, or the remotest part of the Rockies, but most hikings/treks are not in such places...

I wouldn't be surprised if Everest specifically has some coverage nowadays.

Thankfully, if you happen to have an Apple Watch, it doesn't prevent people from calling 911 to help you.

It's an addition safety factor.

This is true. I am going trekking in a remote area and bought a Garmin InReach Mini. I know it pairs with my phone so it would be cool if there was some Apple Watch Siri shortcut that could make a satellite SOS message via the Garmin when a fall is detected.

Yup, for us hikers it would need to be able to use satellite communications to be of much value. Something of that nature would seriously tempt me to upgrade from PLB to inReach.

>Increasingly large odds after a certain age,

Yes! Falls by the elderly are a huge issue and there have been major product lines that focus on it. Many will probably remember the 80s/90s commercials about "I've fallen and I can't get up!"

You are referring to a greek proverb, right? :D

Yes :D

Would have been cool to see the original, for us !Greeks :)

"ο γέρος πάει ή από πέσιμο ή από χέσιμο"

How about "slumping or dumping"?

>not small if you do certain sports (e.g. trekking, climbing, etc)

If you're serious about hiking/climbing you should never be in a position where you would need an apple watch to save you. You should always let people know where you are going, what you are planning to do, and when you plan to be back or at least back in contact otherwise they should call a rescue team. If you're solo climbing and your apple watch is what you're relying on in case of emergency you probably have far bigger issues to worry about

That being said, it does seem like it could be useful for the elderly in some scenarios

Telling my wife I'm going up the South Loop will let her point S&R in the general area. Where on the 8 1/2 miles of trail (or a bit off it if I stopped to take a leak) am I? (However, that's probably better than what the watch could do as service along there varies from marginal to nonexistent.)

On the other hand, I don't see that there is any appreciable fall risk from hiking. It's the scramblers that get hurt, not those of us who stick to trails.

That's a fair point, assuming you have service it could make it easier to find your specific location in case something happens. However, I'd be much more likely to recommend a GPS beacon specifically designed for this purpose rather than an apple watch. My dad and I used to wear beacons while skiing in the outback in case of an avalanche

I'd also consider trail running. I sometimes run after work. I don't carry alot, and on the trails at sunset I hardly see anyone. I could see myself taking a tumble and needing help. I once encountered a wolf out there and sprinted like never before to get out of the area. I could have easily fell.

Yep. I broke my ankle because I had to get back home quickly and I tripped while descending some boulders. Fortunately I was in mobile coverage and on a trail that a lot of surfers use, so I was able to call an ambulance and had a few surfers stop and help me out.

Yeah, trail runners certainly could take a tumble, also. I see plenty of them and I'm amazed at their ability to avoid injury on all the rocks on the trail.

I carry a PLB--but those can't sense a fall, they only broadcast if you specifically trigger them.

Anyway, you're thinking of an avalanche beacon. Those are to help others you are with find you quickly if you're buried in the snow, they have no GPS capability.

But don't forget about the "golden hour" and the difference between being, say, lost or slightly injured and being seriously injured and in shock or unconscious.

I had a friend biking on a remote highway in the early morning where there is very little traffic. He was clipped by a morning worker at the factory who dozed off puncturing his lung and throwing him in the ditch. If that worker hadn’t stopped to help, he would have died there. An Apple Watch would would have at least let 911 know where he was and that he was unresponsive. He has two kids and is a great professor, and his life hung on a split second decision of someone who was likely terrified of the consequences of what just happened, but luckily made the right choice (he got a ticket which my friend paid in thanks for stopping).

Edit just realized I know of several other instances where an Apple Watch would have saved someone or kept them for have a days torture with broken legs in their back yard while living alone. Surely this is morning common than you make out?

The odds become uncomfortably high for the elderly. In the U.S., falls are the leading cause of both injuries (at 7 million/yr) and death from injuries (at 27 thousand/yr) for the elderly[1]. It is a significant risk even if you aren't older. Worldwide, falls are the leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths overall[2]. Given the incidence rate, I would say the odds of a serious fall injury while alone are significant enough to warrant precautions such as a smart watch with fall detection.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0922-older-adult-fa... [2] https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/falls

The odds become uncomfortably high for the elderly. In the U.S., falls are the leading cause of both injuries (at 7 million/yr) and death from injuries (at 27 thousand/yr) for the elderly[1]

There should be a law forcing them to wear bicycle helmets for their own good.

> I think the odds for such an event are rather low.

And I guess you are writing just to the young users. There are a lot of old people living alone (in the part of the world where such watches are affordable). Falling, even in their own house, then remaining immobile and unable to call for help is a common cause of huge problems (1) (2).

The specialized devices already exist too, but a lot of people don't carry them, until they already suffer such event and also have luck to survive. Such people (who would otherwise not survive) get potentially (if the system do engage and what follows can be influenced) a huge benefit in a watch that has such functionality.


1) https://www.medicalalertadvice.com/fall-detection/ also:

"With the monthly costs nearly twice that of a traditional medical alert monitoring system, the cost alone may be the deciding factor. Is the extra costs worth it? Only you can make that decision. Keep in mind, these emergency alert systems cannot detect 100% of all falls."

2) Also see the exponential increase of chances to die with age:


> Falling, even in their own house, then remaining immobile and unable to call for help is a common cause of huge problems

That's been a solved problem for years though. As your link points out, LifeAlert bracelets (and similar technologies) have had fall detection for quite some time now. The new thing that Apple (and Garmin) have brought to the table is pairing that will a cell radio.

Given the other benefits of a LifeAlert bracelet (or pendant), I'm not sure the Apple Watch is a major improvement (especially for someone with failing eyesight).

My proud father would not even consider life alert even though he has fallen several times already with nobody home.

Loves the Apple Watch I bought him as a gift though.

Exactly! “I’m still not in so bad shape!”

And this is the best aspect of the systems that aren’t explicitly “for sick and old.”

And even among young users, I know a sizable number who were involved in rather gruesome falls.


Besides the fact that you cannot estimate the value of a person's life and the fact I don't want to think you're trolling, it can happen to anyone.

We have recently a case of a coworker (middle-age man) falling in his house while wife and kids were away and stayed there for hours until somehow reached his phone with a broken back.

Which is what I said. The watch provides more value the when younger. Middle aged to like 65 is probably the sweet spot of value. Though I guess it depends on how much you value every second of life.

You should add to your list thess odds as well

- smart watch correctly detects a crash

Not sure why you're downvoted, because you are right. There are times when this can fail. Even the damn "stand up once an hour" seems to fail sometimes. Or Siri. Or the watch breaks in the crash.

>Or the watch breaks in the crash.

This doesn’t seem like a very difficult problem to solve for the vast majority of crashes.

Here in India, if you have cellphone signal, you have people near you.

West Michigan (US) here, Verizon has coverage everywhere, I could totally see somebody picking blueberries in a field, tripping and hitting their head.

At least around here cell reception != humans within earshot at all.

Also west michigan. You should treck upstate sometime. Cell coverage in the Manistee National Forest is terrible, doubly so during the winter months.

That said, this is a great feature for many people. I could see it being very beneficial to hunters, elderly people, and people who run in the woods.

a country with 1.3b population, of course.

Could also be a hit and run. Having something like this could end up saving your life.

I don't think everyone's getting one just because they are afraid. However, even very low probability events with very severe consequences may warrant having some kind of automatic emergency beacon... although in retrospect I guess this is exactly what you are saying. Eh, maybe this will be useful to someone anyway.

Think of it in terms of a risk assessment[1]. If you are engaging in an activity, you should look at the probability of injury and then the consequences if that occurs.

For example, I'm going mountain biking by myself. The area I'm riding in has a loose surface, but no extreme hills or other features. So it's somewhat likely I'll fall, but the consequence of that won't be extreme. Conversely, I'm riding in a hilly area with a rough but grippy surface. Relatively, the probability of a fall may be lower, but the consequence could be much higher.

Using this type of not-exactly-quantitative reasoning, depending on what you are doing (and the consequences of something going wrong), it may be very reasonable to buy a smart watch or something similar just for this purpose.

[1]A not exactly good article on risk matrix use. Also search for "5x5 risk matrix" (NASA probably has a good reference). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk_matrix

This is a very common problem for elderly people and many products exist to fill the gap already.


Happens more than you'd think. My grandmother (perfectly healthy and living on her own at 92) slipped and fell in the bathroom. She broke her hip and could not get to the phone. No one knew for 18 hours, after which the initial relatively simple and repairable injuries has caused enough follow-on issues that, even with surgery, she never recovered, spent time in an intensive rehabilitation facility, and died.

It's not only about the odds, but the expected return. That's the whole point of insurance, for instance. Having an accident under these circumstances is quite improbable, but in case it happened, the return would be massive. Actually, since it might be a matter of life or death, perhaps it doesn't even make sense to think about the expected utility, because it would be infinite.

These stories happen on local news usually and they're extremely common.

9to5Mac has links to various fall detection stories at the bottom of this post


In December of 2009 my dad died. He was getting the mail, slipped on some ice, and hit his head. He laid there for about 30 minutes before a neighbor found him. He was put on life support but the damage was done.

I’m still mad, 10 years later, about the fact that he has 2 amazing grandkids who won’t get to know him, or that I can’t ask him about the state of the world.

I don’t know if the Apple Watch would have helped him, but I do know that you haven’t done a full risk assessment. He wasn’t in an isolated area, he wasn’t inexperienced. Falls get scarier and scarier the older your loved ones get.

I don't understand your post at all. I think there's a very large population of individuals >60 years of age who are frequently in circumstances where no one is around them to call and ambulance, and they cannot call one themselves due to being infirm, disabled, ill, etc.

By your logic, no one would have to buy life insurance.

The risk life insurance smooths out is typically borne not by you, but by your beneficiaries.

But your risk profile for death is extremely high.

On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.

I had a friend killed in a hit and run, she was found nearly a week later by family members searching possible ways she could have used to walk home from work, had she had something like this (and it had not been destroyed) they could have had closure much faster.

My mother's father, while still alive, rapidly deteriorated mentally and was in two accidents by himself in somewhat remote areas and also went to drive to the VA 15 minutes away and ended up several hours away lost and confused when state police came upon him.

My half-brother was driving a box truck for work when it went off road (ice) and into a very steep ditch, the truck was not visible from the road and was unconscious for some amount of time, fortunately this was still in flip phone days so his phone was in his pants pocket and within reach. Even on the phone with 911 he said he saw the emergency vehicles pass him (via their lights) while he was on the phone with 911.

2 or 3 years ago, the brother of the girl that was killed in the hit and run, hit a patch of ice on an on or off ramp and rolled his car multiple times down the hill with his pregnant girlfriend in the car, with the car landing on it's roof. Fortunately it happened during day and there were people there that witnessed it and while quite confused/disoriented they both remained conscious, had that happened at night such a device could have summoned help.

I'm one person and these are just the instances I know of where such a technology could have been useful.

A lot of people on HN live in big cities, ride bicycles or public transportation to work, are rarely if ever out of sight of multiple human beings. That's not always the case. Technology like this is great, and the more awareness it gets the more it will be adopted, the more it is adopted the more lives it can potentially save and the more data it can provide on how to refined.

What if someone is home alone and falls down the stairs? Has a heart attack? Is cleaning gutters and falls? My father's father was cleaning his windows, fell and hit his head on the driveway but his wife heard the ladder fall with him and was able to call 911, but what if that was a widower at 2pm on a weekday and he just had to lay there until someone happened to drive by, what if he was in the back yard and had a privacy fence?

The late Grant Thompson crashed his aircraft this summer (I believe they said died on impact) and was able to be located by comparable technology and by knowing where he'd be flying. Had he not died on impact, something like this could have saved his life or had he not told everyone where he was going and when he expected to return this could have given a location to go search (assuming he had signal) and led to a quick recovery of his body.

Edit: and actually, this may have saved my own life if I'd had the technology and it had triggered from a fall from bed. Some years ago I had a hypokalemic event where I was effectively paralyzed, with great effort I managed to get to the edge of the bed and proceeded to fall out of bed like a sack of bricks onto the floor, barely able to move my hands with minimal manual dexterity and poor coordination, fortunately my mother was already living with me due to her health but I still laid there on the floor, with only a bathroom between our rooms, yelling for help for probably 5 minutes. That was a pretty interesting experience, I've written about it here -> https://www.ryanmercer.com/ryansthoughts/2013/2/19/flashback...

Now I wonder if you can go "hey Google, call 911" to a Google home.

>Now I wonder if you can go "hey Google, call 911" to a Google home.

Unfortunately not. It would be a nice feature to have.

Agreed, but people buy safety/prep things (like guns) for phenomenally less likely scenarios.

I used to have an Apple Watch, and now have a Garmin that has similar features. Nice to know they're there, but I wouldn't buy the device just for it.

That said, if I had been the son in the story, yeah, i probably would have run out and bought my own the very next day! The power of a personal connection to a story.

Happened to me spring skiing last year. Not a lot of people on the mountain; I was separated from my group; I fell and broke some ribs and could not move; I was lying on/in the snow but not dressed for those conditions. My watch called 911 and messaged my kid.

So yes, it happens.

Still not sure what your point is or why you feel the need to tell people that may considering it not to buy it. I would guess a lot more people are in the risk zone than your post may suggest (especially elderly) and maybe it happens that someone decides not to buy it now that actually should because of your comment.

> unless you ride around alone in remote areas

In which case you will probably not have a cellphone connection anyway.

So negative. I ride and run in the woods near me quite a bit. It's peaceful and quiet, but the opposite side of that coin is that no one would find me for quite some time if something went sideways.

I have great cell coverage there.

In my rural state the fastest connection I’ve ever had on my phone was in about as remote as you can get fishing a creek surrounded by 30’ embankments. Bet I was the only person connected to that tower.

Maybe not in the US, but hard to get to a place without coverage in Norway and often in a place without people.

This is basically the same reason people buy firearms for their home in case of a break in. The odds are incredibly low but you feel better having it.

I get your point but I don’t agree with the logic. Death is game over.

So yes the chance of incident is low, but the cost of the incident is at a maximum (you can die).

For lone campers and hikers that happen to camp or hike in an area with good reception. Yeah seems like more of a nice backup feature.

I'm pretty sure this isn't the first time such news surfaces shortly after Apple releases new line of devices.

Even if this situation coincidentally has happened recently, the subtle message is still here: "you can rely on Apple Watch and you should buy one - better safe than sorry"

It’s a real enough risk for my 77 year old dad that I’m thinking of getting him one.

Indeed! These native ads are getting more blatant by the day. I know times are hard for print media but this doesnt help with the perceived credibility or lack thereof.

This likely isn't a native ad (since it being one would break the law - the website posted (nor the original source[1]) state they are paid for the article - which is a legal requisite in the states.

1: https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2019/sep/24/apple-watch-al...

>This likely isn't a native ad (since it being one would break the law

That hardly ever stopped news outlets from doing so. In fact, in some places everybody (every outlet) does it, even though it's against the law. Of course depends on the country and how exhaustive enforcement is (and if they can just get out of it with a slap on the wrist/small fine, in the eventually they're discovered).

That said, I don't think this is the case here. A device saving someone's life simply makes for a good story (technology, human interest, feel good result, and Apple to boot, clicks all the "people will be interested" boxes), and there are stories written for a lot less ("see this curious grumpy cat" or whatever passes for new). And such a story, if written, couldn't have but a positive spin (a person's life was saved after all).

From the moment the story actually happened, it was inevitable that outlets would report it, and with a positive message for said technology.

> Indeed! These native ads are getting more blatant by the day. I know times are hard for print media but this doesnt help with the perceived credibility or lack thereof.

I don't understand the complaints about this being an ad at all. Okay, so maybe it's an ad. Is it conveying useful information? I didn't know Apple Watch's were capable of doing this. Ads are just another way of conveying information - often that information is useless. But in this case? No, it's not useless information. It's important and valuable to many people. The alternative is that there's no ads and nobody finds out about this feature, and they lose out on the opportunity to decide whether this feature (and others) warrant a purchase. It also sparks conversation about possible alternatives (and no, the devices for seniors aren't an alternative for many people), or where alternatives fall short.

My cousin died last week of a heart attack on the way from his house in a village south of Nuremberg to the bakery 10 minutes away to get bread for breakfast. His Apple Watch (presumably because of the fall detection) called emergency services for him and gave him time to call his wife.

My condolences, it's always painful losing family. I too lost a cousin about six years ago due to heart failure, he had just about turned 21. I wish he'd had an Apple Watch (or similar device) at the time.

A dear colleague died of a heart attack a couple months ago. His Apple Watch didn't save him. He collapsed at work.

The Apple Watch is very explicit about not being a panacea, and currently only advertises detection of a specific kind of arythmia or elevated heart rate. Note that the original comment mentioned that fall detection was probably the trigger.

I'm still pretty angry at the universe about my colleague's sudden death. I just want to temper expectations about what the Watch can or cannot do.

Heart attacks are sudden and sometimes nothing could save you. My mother is a medical professional, and she told me the story about a doctor in her hospital: one morning he realized he was about to have a heart attack, called emergency services himself and left the door open; he was dead by the time the ambulance arrived, five to ten minutes later.

There was a legendary cardiologist at my medical school who predicted his own demise, took a Holter monitor home with him one night, wired himself up, went to sleep, never woke up, and left his colleagues with the 12-lead trace of his death.

It is a reference to the number of electrodes attached to the monitor. A 12 lead setup can provide a much more detailed signal and thus be used in different diagnostics than a lower lead obtained trace.


I find this confusing. If he was so sure of his imminent death why not do the same thing in a hospital room where you had a chance of survival.

Unless he had this sense multiple times and was finally right this time...

He may have been choosing quality over quantity.

Thinking of deaths of people I've known; dying at home in bed seems preferable to most.

"Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande is an excellent book on this subject.

Doctors know how awful dying in a hospital can be, and once you're there they won't let you change your mind.

> the 12-lead trace of his death

What does this mean?

A 12-lead ECG report/graph/whatever it's called. 12 wires collecting data (versus eg the Apple Watch implementation which is equivalent to a 1-lead ECG)

I wouldn't be to sure the Apple watch is even comparable to 1-lead ECG, simply due to the difference of how ECG is attached to you and how the Apple watch is.

Through this doesn't mean the Apple watch can't be a useful addition, just don't rely on it.

I would imagine it is possible the sensor in an Apple watch is more sophisticated than a single ecg lead.

12 lead ECG is just a technology. There could be other techniques. However, the Apple Watch might be comparable to higher number of leads but never be identical to the number of leads.

Except, when you wear additional bracelets at your both legs, the other hand, both shoulders and another 6 on your chest. Then yes ;). And consider the continuous cyborgization of our society, that is not that far away.

The 12 lead ECG is about detecting the electrical impulses of heart beats from different angles of your bodies.

If you found a technology to detect these mV values from a meter away ... tell me ;) We will be rich ;)

You can do only so much with a single signal.

There's a reason ECG probes are attached to multiple points on the body, and you can infer quite a bit of info from just comparing multiple signals alone, including if you have your heart flipped, for some reason. :D You'll not get that from your watch.

Apple state that it is equivalent to a 1-lead ECG.

12 wires attached to his torso, recording all the electrical impulses from various points, tracing out a graph.

They call this an electrocardiogram (ECG) but the one I had for a medical didn't have 12 leads just 5 or 7 I think.

A 12 lead is actually 10 wires (the "leads" are then comprised of various combinations of those wires).


Number of wires connected to points on his body for ECG he recorded on himself.

Some heart attacks kill faster than others. They are not all sudden. My friend, a doctor, had a heart attack and decided to go to the second nearest hospital because it had a better reputation than the nearest. He's still alive today.

Sure, I probably should have moved “sometimes” before “sudden”.

My uncle died in the waiting room of his cardiologist's office, waiting for his check-up

It doesn't just detect arrhythmia -- it also detects if you have fallen and are not moving (and will automatically call emergency services after some duration, if configured as such). More details at https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208944 if you're interested to know more.

how does this happen :( so young...

I can't speak for all cases but there are often unknown medical conditions involved. My aunt got the flu one year and it weakened her heart so much that she required a transplant and while she lived for a while after that, she died at 27.

Please vaccinate yourselves and loved ones even for the flu.

A friend of mine runs a charity [1] that deals with providing AED (Automated External Defibrillator) devices to organisations. These things save lives. They can deliver shocks to the heart if necessary and can guide laypeople through giving CPR until help arrives (I think many models now actually tell you if you aren't giving strong enough compressions, for example).

I would also highly recommend people go through this app [2] to get some familiarity with CPR. Then take a proper CPR course (I need to take my own advice on doing a proper course, actually).

[1] https://responseforlife.org.au/

[2] https://www.resus.org.uk/apps/lifesaver/

i see those AEDs popping up around, ie in the office, train station, every pharmacy around has them. My wife is an emergency doctor, an she has clear opinion about those - yes they save lives, but in most cases, people will end up as 'vegetables' (not sure what's the proper english term for +-brain death). I only presume she meant more severe heart attacks that would normally result in death prior to emergency arriving or shortly after.

So don't expect miracles where none are currently possible. Do all you can obviously in case of need, and ideally make yourself familiar with procedures a bit, any delay will worsen the chances.

Just like with old school CPR, there's really no guarantee you won't be a vegetable. Maybe you get lucky and the person doing CPR does it right, the AED arrives soon enough, and the paramedics arrive soon enough. Always make sure you have a living will to cover such kinds of situations. I would hate having my vegetable body ending up in a fight between loved ones who want to keep me alive and loved ones who want to do the humane thing.

Here in Denmark there's a volunteer "heart runner" programme. If someone calls 911 and has a cardiac arrest, people in the programme that nearby can be notified to fetch an available public AED and run to the patient (or attempt manual resuscitation).

According to their material, the 30-day survival rate in Denmark has gone from 3.8% (2001) to 10.4% in 2016, with 67.5% bystander assistance: https://hjertestarter.dk/english/you-can-save-lives though it's not clear how much the programme itself can claim.

According to various papers, rapid CPR/AED after a heart attack can triple survival rates.

It's still pretty bleak outcome, but better than e.g. in 2002 Detroit, where 1 out of 471 out of hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) survived to hospital discharge. In USA, all those stats are apparently being tracked by a programmed called CARES.

AEDs have to be found very quickly. Most networks seem to require installing an app. ️

In the UK, the emergency services can tell you where the nearest one is. You need to call them to get the unlock code anyway.

Haha what? The AEDs are locked up? I don't think I've ever seen that here in the US.

Nah, vast majority aren't locked up here, from experience. Pubs in the UK tend to have them, as do larger shops, community halls, libraries, I've seen old red phone booths repurposed as AED storage, in Birmingham city centre I saw a really modern one like one of those light-up ad screen / phone booth / touchscreen signs, which could simultaneously call emergency services, deliver CPR advice on the screen and dispatch the AED stored underneath - was awesome. Honestly I'm surprised (and pleased) that they don't get stolen/vandalised more considering the amount that are just out there - though I don't know what you'd do with a black market AED lol.

I have yet to see one that's properly locked up [that didn't have easy to break emergency glass, anyway]. My workplace has a few in special AED boxes, but those have the emergency glass and the hammer.

Must be a southern thing. I've never seen an outdoor (or phoebox) one that doesn't have a keycode lock on it. You're supposed to call 999 before using one anyway, so it's not a major impediment.

Unfortunately, flu vaccination has not proven to be much more effective than prayer.

Fortunately, it costs about the same! but still...

Near 50% effectiveness is quite a bit better than the (in my opinion) 0% effectiveness of prayer

That's not opinion - no study has shown prayer to have any effectiveness on flu symptoms.

I'm not aware of any studies showing that it has no effect either.

If I had to guess I would estimate a prayer to be as effective as a placebo, but to proclaim that as fact seems a bit unscientific.

There has been quite a bit of study of intercessory prayer. i.e. for people that don't know they are being prayed for.

No affects have been found.

> In 1872, the Victorian scientist Francis Galton made the first statistical analysis of third-party prayer. He hypothesized, partly as satire, that if prayer were effective, members of the British Royal Family would live longer than average, given that thousands prayed for their well-being every Sunday, and he prayed over randomized plots of land to see whether the plants would grow any faster, and found no correlation in either case.


The wiki page contradicts your statement about "no effects".

there's been a number of studies showing lots of effects. Most studies seem to show slight positive effects from prayer, some show none and some show negative effects.

From the wikipage:

> Meta-studies of the literature in the field have been performed showing evidence only for no effect or a potentially small effect.

I'm an atheist so I take the "no effect" over the "small effect".

You don’t get to take the “no effect” over the “small effect” just because you’re an atheist. That is precisely what taking faith over data looks like!

My answers would be that we're arguing over statistical noise.

I take what I consider to be the simplest explanation in the absence of a credible alternative, that prayer does nothing when the recipient is unaware of it.

I take that view because I've never heard an alternative explaination that didn't appear to break the second law of thermodynamics.

extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

A magical, invisible, omnipresent, omnipotent "all known laws of nature defying"-being that answers prayers, requires significantly more evidence than a small effect in some meta study.

Absolutely. My point is that "I'm an atheist so I'll take the option that agrees with my personal beliefs" isn't a valid line of reasoning. You could symmetrically argue "I'm a catholic so I'll take the option that suggests there is an effect, albeit a small one". Now we're just arguing whose personal beliefs are right.

A more properly scientific line of reasoning would be to instead say that you'll assume the small-to-nonexistent effect is nonexistent until somebody produces a model capable of predicting the proposed small effect, or a myriad other arguments along the same general lines.

I think your opinion is wrong. Even placebo has a higher than 0% effectiveness.

I assume they're testing prayer without the recipient's knowledge, to control for placebo.

Sounds like an improper use of prayer then. The refrain "I'm praying for you" isn't meant to be some kind of conspicuous display of faith.

The person praying knows they are praying...

"the overall estimated effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccine for preventing medically attended, laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infection was 47%"


Couldn't find the prayer stats.

Couldn't find the prayer stats.

I doubt there are any. It seems like a study fraught with problems, to put it mildly.

I can’t find the source now but I remember hearing about a study into the efficacy of prayer. Briefly, the study recruited several Christians to pray for patients in a hospital. The patients were split into three groups: a control group who weren’t prayed for, a group who were prayed for but who weren’t told, and a group who were prayed for and were informed that they were being prayed for. Allegedly the patients in the last group had the most issues with concern and depression, allegedly because they assumed that because they were being prayed for, they were in fact really seriously ill.

Years ago, I joined a health list for parents of children with a very serious medical condition. When I joined, the discussion involved a lot of "Our child is facing X surgery. Please pray for us."

The longer I was there, the more the discussion became "Our child is facing X surgery. Have you or your child had this surgery? Pros? Cons? Any good tips?"

Prayer very often means "It's hopeless. Humans can't fix this. Our only hope is divine intervention." And it's hugely depressing and disempowering.

Prayer is a human act of connection that has been going on longer than recorded history. Evolutionarily, if most people felt it was hopelessness, it wouldn’t have lasted so long.

Modern feelings of hopelessness and nihilism extremely common in the western world, many people are dealing with these feelings through medication. The effectiveness of regular prayer on mental health is surprising according to studies and demographic data.

I actually believe in the power of prayer and considered commenting on that specifically to try to avoid someone replying in this fashion. I didn't because this is HN and saying something like that can be a convenient excuse for a bunch of people to accuse you of being "woo," irrational, etc.

Let me rephrase that: When the people around you offer nothing but prayers, it's often because they don't believe there is any practical support they are capable of offering. In a group setting, if everyone offers you prayers and zero practical support, the signal it sends is pretty depressing.

To be clear, this was a support group for a deadly genetic disorder that frequently kills children before they reach adulthood. It is classified as a dread disease for a reason. The psychological effect of the diagnosis is huge.

It's practically a sign on the wall a la "All those who enter herein are damned." kind of thing.

Sorry to read your cousin died this way. I don't understand.

The Apple Watch told him his heart isn't working right - automatically calling emergency services - and he also called his wife to let him know the watch says there is an emergency with his heart?

Or was it that he too passed out, the Apple Watch called emergency services, who resuscitated him enabling him to call his wife?

> and he also called his wife to let him know the watch says there is an emergency with his heart

The watch will call emergency services, then it will text your emergency contact(s) and let them know you've experienced a hard fall. I don't know exactly how, in this instance, that was then converted to a voice call.

Edit: I see in another comment that he initiated a call himself because he was conscious enough to do so.

His wife may have called him back in response to the text

I think the watch detected his fall (which was a result of the heart attack)

The specs for the watch specifically rule out heart attack detection, by the way.

> Apple Watch cannot detect heart attacks. If you ever experience chest pain, pressure, tightness, or what you think is a heart attack, call emergency services immediately.

"What we list for legal purposes" and "what the device actually does" might not be the same thing. I imagine saying "my device detects heart attacks" gets the FDA involved and makes everything ten times more expensive...

The watch doesn't have enough data to detect a heart attack. It's not possible for the device to do it (with current, or even near-future technology it's not possible for any wrist worn device to detect a heart attack as it's happening).

It is theoretically possible now, with clunky technology that is not wrist-worn.

Development of a 12-Lead ECG Signal Processing Algorithm Using NI LabVIEW® and NI ELVIS: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8574627

You would most likely need a 12 lead ECG/EKG too, to detect it accurately.

Source: he's an EMT.

Technically I'm a paramedic...

I can never recall which is which. I assume paramedic is the better-credentialed?

Yeah, technically they're all levels of EMT, but "EMT" generally refers to "EMT-Basic" (a few months of training, a couple nights a week). EMT-Paramedic is ~18 months of a couple nights a week, plus 1,000+ hours of clinical time.

Thank you for your service.

Well the watch isn't measuring troponin levels so it's hard to imagine how useful it could ever be at MI detection, especially given the limitations of a poor contact single lead ECG.

Even if it could check a trop, that's a pretty late indicator. If you're having the big one, you're going to be dead before your troponin spikes.

Is that right? When I worked in medical instrumentation, I was always told that TnI was a leading marker.

It will take up to 8 hours for troponin levels to rise after the onset of symptoms (typically 3-4).

ER nurse here - some STEMIs I've taken care of had negative initial trop's (not all though). The 4 hr delta should of course be positive though - I don't typically check the 4 hr repeat for STEMIs though because they're long gone out of the ED to the cath lab then to CVICU.

I could imagine the thing detecting Vfib but it would need to use some good AI signal processing to exclude artifacts. Elevated ST segments, probably not, even with good AI.

OTOH doesn't the EKG feature only work when you touch the watch with your other hand? In which case it would be useless for heart attacks that caused you to lose consciousness.

The watch did an emergency sos. AFAIK no heart related notification triggers that - only fall detection can.

Outside possibility is he felt bad, saw a heart rhythm notification, and manually triggered emergency sos by holding the power button. But a fall alert seems much more likely.

The specific language you are looking for here is "indications for use". The way the FDA works, you cannot advertise (even directly) a medical device for a usage you have not indicated in your filing and backed up with the required evidence. The level and type of evidence will depend on the type of filing and claims. A medical professional can advise for a different use (called "off label") but you, as the device developer, cannot even hint at it.

Aside: as others note, though, you can't really detect heart attacks well from something this simple.

Whether you officially list it or not, if your device is diagnosing and reporting heart attacks to people, the FDA will be involved sooner or later.

The FDA was involved in the Apple Watch.

That being said of course they will state that the watch can’t detect accurately hearth attack to avoid any liability.

And because it can’t...

If they only diagnosed but didn't report to the user but instead anonymized the data and used it for marketing would the fda care?

Differentiating between cardiac arrest and taking the watch off your wrist may be interesting. And I kinda wonder how good any single-lead EKG would be at detecting a heart attack when your heart is still beating. Even the expensive multi-lead machines usually auto-diagnose me with an old infarction, which is false.

Sometimes the rhythm may degrade into a ventricular rhythm, like v-tach then into v-fib if not treated. A heart can still pump in v-tach, albeit very inefficiently, but in v-fib, no blood is pumped. On the other hand, taking the watch off results in no signal input which is different than what you would see on the monitor for asystole.

Apart from the immediate “flatline” the watch also detects that it is not proximate to the skin. As soon as you take it off the watch disables things like ApplePay. It knows when it being/has been taken off.

I'd guess taking the watch off would produce a classic flat line. A heart in arrest which is in the process of dying will produce irregular electrical output.

It absolutely can. It's more sensitive than equipment hospitals use. There's an ongoing data collection program to calibrate it for that purpose. But since it hasn't been approved by regulators for use as such, they'd be in legal trouble if they claimed otherwise.

Correct. I had heard speculation he may have noticed ECG stuff but he was still conscious enough to call his wife.

The former I think.

Condolences from my side too. My dad suddenly died in 2011 from a heart attack. It runs in the family so I have to be vigilant. I do love hearing about these Apple Watch stories though.

Tip: the fall detection feature seems to be turned off by default. I just turned mine on. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208944

I think its turned off by default if you are under a certain age - 60?

> If you've entered your age when you set up your Apple Watch or in the Health app and you're age 65 and over, this feature automatically turns on.


This is so amazing. Serious kudos to the apple watch team for this.

Apple don't get nearly enough credit for the thought and effort they put into these sorts of features. The same goes to their dedication to accessibility, which is industry-leading and honestly pretty inspiring.

Doesn't seem like outsized thought and effort given the companies size, resources, and relatively small product focus..

Apple has had strong accessibility features since before they were a household name, when they were a fraction of the size of the company they are today.

Here's a post from 2006 for example, talking about accessibility in Mac OS 9: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/724948.

Here's about accessibility in Mac OS X Tiger (2005): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_OS_X_Tiger#Accessibility.

Ironically, I think the accessibility focus started because they were a fraction of today’s size: in the early 2000s, section 508 requirements were becoming more stringent; there was an increasing risk that Apple would get shut out of government contracts, and due to the small market share of OS X, it was not considered a viable market for commercial screen reader vendors, so Apple decided to roll their own.

Thanks to strong leadership in the accessibility team, there was an increasing buy-in from the top, and throughout the company. Today, accessibility is indeed in Apple’s DNA, but initially, there was quite a bit of genetic engineering and (dare I say it?) government regulation involved.

Apple was known for easy to use in the 1980s. While that isn't entirely accessibility, the two are related. The early macs had some accessibility features.

It's 2019, not 1980.

Evidence is simply being brought forth to showcase that before Apple became as large as they did, they still cared about accessiblity, irregardless of their "company size" as you stated.

I don't see how that's relevant at all in 2019. People WERE giving Apple mad props for their thoughtfulness back in the day. Now, they have revenue over a third that of Saudi Arabia's GDP. I was responding the OPs point. That's evidence for an argument nobody made.

> Doesn't seem like outsized thought and effort given the companies size, resources, and relatively small product focus..

It was evidence to elucidate upon a baseless statement you made earlier.

No, but they are one of the few _actually_ thinking about it rather than devoting their resources to something "more worthy".

It's easy to criticize a company their size, but they definitely do this very very right.

I ordered my grandmother a Series 5 for this feature alone, in fact it just arrived at my door today and she’s coming over later this week so I can get it setup and walk her through the basics.

She has a hard time getting up from the floor if she kneels or sits down as is, one good fall from a cat tripping her or something is likely to be devastating.

Just curious did she already have an iPhone? I want to buy one for my mother but she doesn’t use iPhone. First I would have to buy her an iPhone.

The only iPhone I've owned is asecond hand iPhone 5C that I used for a few months. The watch is making me think my next phone will be an iPhone. Fortunately, I don't think there are any Android only apps that I depend on so the switch should be easy.

If you're interested, it might just be worth buying a second hand or refurbed SE.

We just switched her to an iPhone 8 recently because her Lumia 950 wouldn’t hold a charge and W10M is going EOL soon anyway.

Does anyone know if you need to get the watch with an active cellular plan to have the auto-911 feature? Or is it like how cell phones without a plan can still call 911?

Also of note: Fall detection is exclusive to the series 4 or above, which seems questionable.

(I would be very surprised if the series 3 and 4 have significantly different accelerometer hardware)

Why would a different accelerometer surprise you? The entire SiP is different between the Series 3 and Series 4. One source say the accelerometer in S4 has higher dynamic range. [0]

[0] https://www.anandtech.com/show/13364/apple-announces-the-app...

They specifically said in the announcement that it was due to new tech.

Consider that to detect falls reliably, you might need an accelerometer with a higher range than that was in the original watch.

Might also have needed a higher sample rate.

For battery life concerns, I can see them implementing some of the fall detection logic in hardware as well. For example, a high shock or shaking could trigger the fall-detection software to wake. Although, with the 60-second period, they probably wake the main processor often enough anyway that hardware detection might not save much power.

> which seems questionable

Maybe because they added new hardware to enable it...?

Series 4 is very different hardware. I'm not surprised.

Well, crap. I have been avoiding smart watches like the plague but this plus the ECG may put me over the edge. My family has a history of heart disease, I commute by bike every day, and I have a young child who I want to see grow up.

One of my friends was recently killed in a motorcycle crash. A passerby found them in the morning in some bushes near the side of the road. We don't know what time the crash occurred, or even if they died right away. This feature may have saved them.

If you're in the market for a smart watch, and you're a cyclist, I'd recommend checking out Garmin. They have a massive array of sensors and record very precise data that is aggregated on Garmin Connect. It's been invaluable to me for assessing training effectiveness over time. They make Apple watches look like toys. If you want the latest and greatest, the Forerunner 945 is probably what you're looking for, but the older models can be found for cheap and are still solid watches. If you want emergency alerts, you'll have to stick with newer models though.

I think you are missing the point here completely and utterly. Compared to what the Apple Watch can do (as mention on the post and several comments) the garmin watch may be the real toy here.

That's hardly true, the two devices have very different purposes. I couldn't run an ultramarathon (or even a shorter trail race) in an apple watch. That's before we even start talking about features. The battery would die long before I finish.

The FR945 that was released this year has far more features than the apple watch (including the emergency features). Even comparing the Apple Watch 4 to my FR935 (released in 2017), the Apple watch would be a huge step down for my purposes. That's all without mentioning the fact that I'd probably break the apple watch on my first outing.

The Apple watch might be a better smart watch for day-to-day use, but next to a Garmin it's pretty obvious which is the toy.


When I was a kid, my next door neighbor was an ultra-marathoner and the fittest person I'd ever met. He died suddenly one day of a heart attack while out on a run.

When this happens it's typically due to undiagnosed cardiomyopathy (which is very difficult to detect). It's true that when something like that happens to someone they would've lived longer had they not been an endurance athlete, but most endurance athletes live about as long as their less-active peers.

I get a yearly physical just to be safe, but honestly running is my favorite way to decompress and I'd need some kind of diagnosis before giving it up.

> most endurance athletes live about as long as their less-active peers.

I'd venture to say they live far longer.

From the introduction of Vina & al 2016:

In longitudinal studies, physically active men and women have an approximately 30% lower risk of death compared with inactive people (Schnohr et al. 2015). No upper threshold for physical activity has ever been recommended (Pate et al. 1995). In fact, in studies performed on top‐level athletes, participation in endurance competitive sports increases life expectancy (Hartley & Llewellyn, 1939; Prout, 1972). Moreover, Karvonen and co‐workers found that Finnish champion skiers lived 2.8–4.3 years longer than the general male population in Finland (Karvonen et al. 1974). We tested the effect of strenuous exercise, performed by well‐trained humans, on their longevity. We measured average and maximal lifespan in cyclists who had taken part in the Tour de France between the years 1932 and 1964 and compared them with those of the average population in those years. Only cyclists born in Belgium, France and Italy were included in our study. The results were striking: we found an 11% increase in average longevity in Tour de France participants when compared with the general population (Sanchis‐Gomar et al. 2011). These results have been confirmed recently with the observation of a significant 41% lower mortality rate among French elite cyclists from the Tour de France, compared with the general male population (Marijon et al. 2013). Evidence from human studies supports the notion that regular, vigorous aerobic exercise might be a useful tool, with a dose–response effect, to improve the overall health status and longevity of the general population (Ruiz et al. 2010; Teramoto & Bungum, 2010). However, the controversy regarding the potential adverse effects of regular strenuous physical exercise continues (Benito et al. 2011; Schnohr et al. 2013). Schnohr and co‐workers have found that moderate‐intensity joggers have lower mortality rates that sedentary people or high intensity joggers. In other words the relationship between intensity of jogging and mortality follows a U‐shaped curve (Schnohr et al. 2015). Thus, the ideal ‘dose’ of exercise needed to improve longevity is not a simple linear relationship. Genetic aspects as well as lifestyle factors (smoking, diet and alcohol consumption) may be important in interpreting studies aimed at determining the effect of exercise training on longevity.

I suspect that generally only healthy people would become serious endurance athletes. Is that taken into account in these studies?

I also suspect lifting weights (and a bunch of other things) is important for long term health, how does that relate?

HOCMs are usually detectable with echocardiograms.

I am wearing a Garmin FR945 right now; in fact, I sold my Apple Watch 4 a month back, after it sat on my nightstand for months following my purchase of the 945. I previously had an Apple Watch 2.

The AW might be a huge step down for your purposes, but I was fine recording 5+ hour bike rides and my 4+ hour (yeah, yeah) first marathon. I really disliked using a touch screen on the AW for recording runs, particularly intervals. I love the feature set of the 945 and haven't looked back.

THAT SAID, I would trust the Apple Watch over the Garmin any day of the week for 'lifesaving' type tech. Garmin's software is spotty, to say the least. First off, I can trigger the Garmin crash detection at will by jolting to a sudden stop on my bike and hopping off. Not all that aggressively -- it happens in my normal dismount process with some regularity. I have to tell it to cancel the emergency call.

Right now it's setup to text my wife. Looking at the config, it says "Select up to 3 people to be notified via text message and email if an incident occurs or assistance is needed". I don't know how I could set it up to call 911 if I wanted to.

And that would all assume it even works. Multiple times a week, my watch says it doesn't have connection with my iPhone X, and I have to reboot the watch for it to find my phone again. My wife's FR235+iPhone 7 setup seems more reliable, but at least once a month for the past 3-4 years, it's decided to stop syncing and we need to reboot the watch again.

IME, the Apple Watch <-> iPhone BT connection just works. All the time.

Sure. One helps you know cool stats, and the other helps you not die.

Not a fan of apple, but this is some cool tech.

Edit: Saw that some garmin's have crash detection too. Neither are "just" toys.

Why couldn’t you?

I had the Apple Watch track me during my hour long bike tours, GPS and heart rate sensor on and all, without any problems and with battery left to spare at the end of the day.

Seven to eight hours is probably the critical mark, but anything below that is no problem at all.

Ultramarathons (full 100 miles) usually takes between 24-30 hours according to one source (WaPo). I'm guessing you're thinking of regular 26.2 mile marathons.

To be wildly pedantic, an ultramarathon is anything over 42.2km (26.2mi). It's perfectly possible to do an ultra with an Apple Watch if you're only going 50km (even I can manage 50km within the 8h battery life.)

Yeah, ok, no you can’t do that with an Apple Watch. Seems an alright trade-off for Apple to make. The amount of people running ultra-marathons is probably miniscule.

Recent Garmin watches and cycling computers also have "incident detection" and can automatically send an alert to your emergency contact(s) after a fall. (I don't think any current Garmin models will directly dial 911, though.)

Does the iwatch track cadence?

NOOOOO! Do not do this.

I have a Garmin Fenix 5X and it does not make the Apple Watch look like a toy. The Apple Watch integration is seamless, the Garmin Connect integration is a joke.

Moreover the Fenix has a clunky user interface, and is bulky and ugly.

The Apple Watch absolutely trounces the Garmin in every aspect, functional and aesthetic, except for two:

1) Water resistance: it's hard to argue with the Garmin's 100M water resistance.

2) Battery life, but it only does better here by being massive (ref. previous comment about bulkiness).

Seriously, unless you're spending a lot of time in the water, and if you're able to put the watch on charge every night, buy the Apple.

You've left ANT+ and cycling specific performance analysis off the list of things that Apple Watch can't do.

If you're not a cyclist then it doesn't matter but there's definitely lots of stuff the Garmin can do that the Apple Watch can't.

To be totally fair you purchased the 5X, the biggest one on offer. A comparison with the 5S (6S now?) would be more reasonable.

Quite true. I bought it for the GPS, mapping, and battery life, but this was really a mistake.

I have 8.5 inch wrists, and even though that's relatively chunky, the Garmin looks absolutely ridiculous.

The thing about fitness and sleep tracking is it's only useful if you're wearing the device pretty much all the time, particularly for things like daily calorie burn.

Whereas I found that there are so many contexts where it either wasn't appropriate, or I didn't want to, wear a gigantic activity watch. I slugged it out for a few months, but in the end gave up on it because it wasn't really practical or stylish.

The maps are something of a wash as well, because the screen is so tiny.

My other arguments stand, to the point where I wouldn't even recommend buying one of the smaller ones unless you really need the water resistance. I imagine even the smaller models still have better battery life than the Apple Watch, so that's another consideration.

How does the data sync work on an Apple Watch if you don't have an iphone?

This was a legitimate question. If it turns out it's pretty useless without an iphone (that is not clear to me, hence the question) then that's another consideration. Something from Garmin (or the other competitors) will work fully regardless of what mobile phone / computer you've already invested in.

While not yet there, Apple seems to be moving towards making the Apple Watch more stand-alone; their newest update, for instance, allows completely stand-alone apps to be downloaded from the App Store on-device.

Doesn’t really change the other arguments, does it?

No, but they are subjective anyway. But I do personally agree the Apple integration and UI is much nicer, they know what they are doing in that department. I would be interested to know how the multisport features compare on the apple watch. In my eyes the fenix series is for triathletes/endurance athletes and if you don't have excellent battery life it's a non-starter. And last I heard it doesn't have ANT+ support which is another blocker for me since none of my bike stuff has BLE.

How are they on privacy? The issue that I have is that every wearable device expects you to allow upload of sensitive information to their servers. At this point, especially with medical information such as heart rate, I do not trust it on any computer not covered by HIPAA or under my control.

> The issue that I have is that every wearable device expects you to allow upload of sensitive information to their servers

This is not the case with the Apple Watch - your Health data lives and dies on your phone unless you back it up or choose to share it with other apps.

How do you know that? Have you examined the source code?

How far do you go with that? Have you examined your CPU with an electron microscope? What about the motherboard? Every peripheral? Where does it end? At some point you have to trust someone.

Hopefully farther than nowhere. It seems like you're ignoring the dangers of proprietary software here entirely.

If you don't wear a smartwatch while out and about, how is your desktop CPU at home going to upload your heard rate or location to the cloud?

The only way to win is not to play?

Apple has a good history in respecting privacy. For example, if Facebook made a watch and claimed no data is sent from your watch to their servers, I would not believe in it. When Apple claims the same, I do believe it.

And don't forget to check the compiler code too..

And the compiler code that compiled the compiler.

Or simply encrypt everything before it leaves the watch and decrypt client-side ala ProtonMail.

I believe most people, if given a discrete choice, would sacrifice 2% of battery life and "forgot your password?" features for the privacy of such information.

This is how HealthKit data works on iOS as long as you have two-factor authentication on for your iCloud account.

Anecdotally +1 on Garmin as well. My friend was in a relatively severe hit and run when he was on a bike. His bike computer called emergency services. It probably saved his life. (He’s doing okay now)

Wait, the bike's computer called emergency services, not the smartwatch? How?

The bike computer pairs to the phone, phone (I believe) contacts emergency services. There was no smart watch involved, just saying their watches aren’t the only things they make with that capability.

+1 on Garmin watches. The "smartwatch" functionality leaves something to be desired, but the watch itself is great, with helpful training features, a great screen, and good battery life. I have the fr645 Music, and can bluetooth to wireless buds for a run.

The new Fenix 6 series is awesome, but they're a little bulky for my wrist.

>The new Fenix 6 series is awesome

Just checked them out and my jaw dropped when I saw the +600 Euro price-tag.

Since I'm not made of money, I hope some core tech from those quickly trickles down to some cheaper sports trackers from Xiaomi for example.

The fenix series is a high end tool meant for serious backcountry use. The ratio of price to utility is actually really good when you compare it to other outdoor equipment. You could spend that much on ski bindings[0]. Not skis, literally just the bindings.

If you just want a smart watch for training then a Forerunner 235 would work fine.

[0]: https://www.rei.com/product/140950/salomon-slab-shift-mnc-sk...

Yeah, exactly.

Though even as someone who spends 40+ days/year in the backcountry skiing around the PNW, the 645m is plenty for me. That, combined with an inReach Mini incase shit hits the fan and I feel pretty well covered.

As a side note, those bindings are incredible. Easily one of the biggest innovation in skiing since shaped skis. I put 30 days on mine last season and didn't have a single issue; really impressive for a lightweight, finicky, and brand-new piece of gear.

I got the Vivoactive 3 and it has served me well with all its features, you can also routinely find it on sale too.

Take a look at the amazfit pace. It's not as comprehensive as the garmins but does provide accurate data for cycling and running. You can also load gpx routes into it.

It's £105 delivered from amazon in the UK. I expect a similar price in your country https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07CRPSJJX/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_...

Check out the Forerunner 945, it's near feature parity with the Fenix 6, but it's in a plastic body. I've got a FR935 (which is basically a Fenix 5 in a plastic body) and it's seriously great for anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors.

I've been thinking of switching from an old Pebble to a Garmin because it has a daylight visible screen. Do they also have a system to text in case of emergency like the Apple watch?

They do on newer watches, like the Forerunner 945 (which I have). https://www.garmin.com/en-US/legal/idtermsofuse/

were pebbles not daylight visible?

Really depended on the watch face. High contrast ones were perfectly readable, low contrast really needed the backlight.

Not riding a motorcycle would have a much larger effect on survival chances than wearing an Apple device.

I've been riding motorcycles on the street since 1986. For many parts of my life, a motorcycle was my only vehicle (including a couple of winters in Hamilton, ON).

During that time I never had any kind of crash or even a particularly close call. Two years ago I decided I didn't want to push my luck any further and sold my bike. Drivers are so distracted now that I feel my luck was going to run out soon.

I think getting a driving license should require everybody to qualify for motorcycle, bicycle, truck and regular car at once. That way they'd have the perspective of all these other users of the traffic infrastructure and it would help a lot to see through the eyes of others. As long as that's not the case there is no way I will ride a motorcycle in traffic.

if the watch could be paired with an iPad I would be more willing to buy into one. currently it still is just an accessory to an iPhone and for me that removes its desirability.

I would be more than happy to buy the cell enabled versions for my parents considering what the watches can do but neither is keen on using a smart phone let alone the associated costs of buying and maintaining one

Check out Alivecor’s devices. I’ve used them for years.

Before the S4 Apple Watch came out, I used AliveCor. Works pretty well, though obviously not as reliably as the watch does. And to enable basic storage functionality in the app they want you to pay $5/month. Pretty quickly it costs more than just getting the watch.

> but this plus the ECG may put me over the edge.

We are still waiting for ECG here in Australia. Sigh.

That's the fault of Australia, not Apple[1]:

> "If Apple claims the ECG function in its Apple Watch has therapeutic benefit for wearers, the watch would need to be included in the [Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods] in order to be legally supplied in Australia," a TGA spokesperson said to Gizmodo Australia in a statement.

This could be fixed if Australia allowed unapproved devices to be sold with a warning instead of outright banning them.

1. https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2019/09/why-apple-watch-series-5-...

If you spend >$400 trying to slightly mitigate every random way of death, you would be spending 10s of millions of dollars. Of course, this is why these features exist in the first place: to hijack your mind and convince you that you can live forever.

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