‘My Watch Thinks I’m Dead’

Her call center and others have alerted Apple to the issue. In mid-January, the company sent four representatives to observe Ms. Dummer and her team for a day; she said they had plenty of examples to show off.

In a written statement, Alex Kirschner, an Apple spokesman, said, “We have been aware that in some specific scenarios these features have triggered emergency services when a user didn’t experience a severe car crash or hard fall.” The company noted that when a crash is detected, the watch buzzes and sends a loud warning alerting the user that a call is being placed to 911, and it provides 10 seconds in which to cancel the call.

Apple also said that updates to the software late last year had been intended to “optimize” the technology and reduce the number of false calls. Mr. Kirschner added, “Crash Detection and Fall Detection are designed to get users help when they need it most, and it has already contributed to saving several lives.”

Apple maintains a collection of incidents in which the two technologies have come to the rescue. In one case, an Apple Watch alerted the authorities after a driver in Indianapolis had crashed into a telephone pole and the device dialed for assistance. In another, a watch called for help after a New Jersey man fell down a steep cliff while hiking.

In Colorado, call dispatchers had trouble recalling an instance in which a watch had saved a skier in distress. (Ms. Dummer added that her team had “very rarely” received false 911 calls from other companies’ devices, such as Android phones.)

The problem extends beyond skiers. “My watch regularly thinks I’ve had an accident,” said Stacey Torman, who works for Salesforce in London and teaches spin classes there. She might be safely on the bike, exhorting her class to ramp up the energy, or waving her arms to congratulate them, when her Apple Watch senses danger.

“I want to celebrate, but my watch really doesn’t want me to celebrate,” she said. Oh great, she thinks, “now my watch thinks I’m dead.”

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