It appears that the vehicle-integrated smartwatch LG and Audi previewed at CES earlier this year is much more than the novelty driving accessory it has been made out to be. The South Korean electronics giant is seeking intellectual property protections for a new piece of homegrown software that can detect when an accident occurs and instantly reprogram the timepiece into a beacon for first responders in the event that the wearer suffers an injury.
The watch assesses the severity of the situation using previously undisclosed biometric sensors that were likely added to the design with the original intention of supporting the preinstalled health tracking app that was shown during the CES demonstration. If the wearer’s body temperature and pulse are found to fall outside of the normative range, the onboard communications chip starts transmitting the vitals to the eCall system in their Audi, which then passes on the information to the nearest emergency call center. The operator at the other end receives the data along with precise coordinates of the vehicle.
The uplink also allows for two-way voice communications, enabling the user to provide more specific details about their condition and the injuries sustained by any passengers who might be with them and aren’t wearing a compatible smartwatch. If no one is responding, the operator can turn on the built-in camera to try and assess the situation on their own. The lenses should remain functional even after the most serious accidents thanks to a sapphire crystal coating that is not only sturdy but also water resistance as well, which should come handy in the rainy days when roads are at their most dangerous. The stainless steel case, meanwhile, protects the componentry inside the timepiece.
The technology holds the potential to help paramedics carry out their life-saving work much more efficiently than today, especially when handling large accidents involving multiple vehicles. In a world where every driver is equipped with a biometric smartwatch, dispatchers could instantly create a damage assessment of an accident and help the team that arrives first at the scene prioritize accordingly to ensure the most seriously wounded victims are treated first. On launch, however, the functionality will probably only be available for Audi drivers in European Union member states that operate official eCall support centers.
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