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Latest Apple Patent Disables Wearables When It Detects the User Driving

The latest Apple patent is about improving driver safety by limiting user distraction while driving. Granted to the tech giant last week, the latest patent uses built-in motion detection on the wearable device to determine whether the user is operating a vehicle, and if so, disables it until the vehicle operation has been completed. Users can also adjust the quantity or the type of notifications that could appear so some emergency messages are not missed. The patent shows no extra hardware developed for the device other than what is already built into the Apple watch controller and Apple devices.

The patent only applies while actually operating the vehicle and it seems to require the wearable nearby a companion device (such as an iPhone). The motion sensor from the device collects data to determine the angular velocity of the wearable device if it is in a certain threshold and then it estimates the direction of gravity related to the wearable device. It it determines that the angular velocity can be attributed to turning the vehicle steering wheel, it will trigger the device notification limit or notification disabling. This way, users who take consumer transport such as trains or as passengers on a vehicle will not be affected.

In the US alone, the Department of Transportation estimates that over 3,000 people were killed in 2014 that can be directly attributed to collisions stemming from distracted driving. In addition to those fatalities, over 431,000 have also been injured when involved in these accidents. Limiting the driver’s distraction could go a long way into lowering those numbers.

Ron Perillo

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