Incident detection is a modern feature becoming more and more popular on smartwatches. Like high-tech fitness sensors, smartwatches are now expected to come with a range of complex features to improve our daily lives. Whether you’re young or old, an incident detection feature can help everyone!
What about Fitbit smartwatches? These are certainly some of the most advanced and popular devices on the market. But have they received an incident detection update yet?
Keep reading to find out more about Fitbits and incident detection features!
What is incident detection?
Before we jump in and evaluate whether Fitbit watches have incident detection, we’ll quickly recap the details on this new and exciting feature.
Incident detection — sometimes called fall detection — allows your smartwatch to automatically notify selected contacts if any incident or fall is detected while you’re wearing the watch. This is perfect for anyone who runs, walks, hikes, or cycles, as you no longer need to worry about incidents going under the radar. It’s also a popular feature for seniors who are fall-prone and may have trouble getting up after a fall, or need medical attention.
Of course we all want to avoid accidents, but incident detection gives peace of mind that you won’t be left alone if something happens.
With incident detection, you can select a few emergency contacts who will receive your name and location if anything happens to you. Your smartwatch must have LTE services enabled, or it should be connected to Bluetooth for this detection service to be effective.
How does incident detection work?
Incident detection and assistance software vary from brand to brand. But we’ll give an overview of how this unique software works.
Many smartwatches use their accelerometer function to determine if you’ve fallen. The accelerometer will notice if you’ve been moving and then stop and receive a shock or a sudden fall.
Other smartwatches come with additional built-in sensors that measure cadence or speed. These sensors help the watch determine if a fall or incident has happened.
Some of the other up-to-date smartwatches can even determine if you’ve fallen when standing in a stationary position, too, for example if you faint. This is an ideal medical feature that will keep you protected at all times, and your emergency contacts will always know if anything has occurred.
Once the watch concludes you’ve fallen, it will typically ring or start an alarm for approximately 60 seconds. You have this time frame to respond or touch a button to indicate you’re OK. If you’re unresponsive, the watch will send emergency SOS notifications to your pre-selected contacts or any relevant authorities.
Various reviews suggest that you should wait at least 30 seconds to turn the alert off after a fall. This gives you enough time to process what happened and detect any injuries. This sounds simple, but some users found that they instinctively turned the alert off, and realized afterward that they needed help.
What’s the difference between incident detection and the SOS feature?
It’s common for customers to confuse the incident detection software and the SOS option. While both are modern safety features, the SOS can work as a component of fall detection or be used alone.
The SOS smartwatch feature lets users call 911 (or the relevant authorities in their location) without going through the effort of unlocking their phone and dialing the number. This provides users with a quick and subtle way of contacting help via their wrist. Some watches also come with an “emergency mode,” which saves the watch’s battery life and will keep the watch alive for several days at a time.
Fitbit: Waiting for it
Unfortunately, Fitbit hasn’t yet received an update with incident detection. Brand enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting this feature, as it would complete the package for many.
We’ve tested a range of Fitbit watches over the years, and we’re always impressed by their sleek design, optimized fitness trackers, and general smartwatch features. But we think it’s time for the brand to step up and include incident detection to compete with other popular brands.
The question of incident detection and Fitbit devices frequently comes up within the smartwatch industry. One of their leading products, the Fitbit Sense, has some of the most advanced fitness and health sensors available right now — as many as the Samsung Watch and the Apple Watch. So, many customers ask why incident detection isn’t among them.
The sensors on a Fitbit Sense include heart rate monitors, electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors, skin temperature monitors, and even electrodermal activity sensors. With refined technology and a team of top developers, it’s confusing why Fitbit wouldn’t add a fall detection feature.
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Hopefully, it’s only a matter of time until we see a Fitbit update that includes this software, alongside other awaited updates. As a strong rival in the health and fitness market, it would be great to see Fitbit competing for medical features too.
Emergency contacts and alerts
Alongside incident detection, another feature consumers are eagerly waiting for is emergency contacts and alerts. Smartwatch fans are calling for a button to be installed on the devices that let you send a quick SOS message to chosen contacts to let them know you’re unsafe or in danger. Similar to incident detection software, it allows the user to send out the alert rather than the watch doing it automatically.
What are emergency contacts?
Emergency contacts are already featured on smartphones and other smartwatches. The user selects these contacts and sends SOS messages if any incident or danger is reported. Remeber to set emergency contacts for your close friends and family to ensure they can help you when needed.
Fitbit doesn’t have incident detection or emergency contact software as of January 2022, but can you add third-party apps to the device? Some third-party apps can provide incident detection software for devices aren’t yet equipped with the technology. This is good news to those who want to invest in a Fitbit but don’t want to forgo emergency services.
What does a third-party app include?
It’s common for third-party apps to include:
- Fall detection alerts. Detects when the wearer has fallen and alerts emergency contacts with the wearer’s loaction using Google maps data.
- Safe zone alerts. Google Map algortihms also send alerts if the wearer has left a predetermined “safe zone” and connects caregivers to the wearer with a live locator map.
- Medicine reminders. Set up a medication schedule and the Better Alerts system will send reminders and notifications to you and your caregivers.
- Activity reporting for caregivers, and more. Contact primary caregivers or local authorities, make emergency calls at the push of a button.
There are many third-party apps to choose from, and you can download them from the Google Play store and the App store — ideal for a range of devices, including Fitbits. The pairing process is easy, allowing all users to install the software quickly.
The majority of these apps are optimized for caregivers and elderly users to ensure they’re healthy and safe at all times. They also sometimes include features that allow you to notify emergency services straight away without going through your emergency contacts first.
Better Alerts incident detection
As Fitbit doesn’t yet offer users emergency SOS features like incident detection, a popular replacement is the Better Alerts app. This app works with the Fitbit Versa and the Fitbit Ionic, but only the first generations of these devices. Unfortunately, if you own a more recent Fitbit or a Sense model, you can’t pair your device with the Better Alerts software.
Which smartwatches feature incident detection?
If incident detection is a deal-breaker for you when shopping for a smartwatch, a range of models already have this handy feature included. Try one of these alternative smartwatches instead:
- The Apple Watch Series 6 and 7
- Garmin Forerunner 45S
- Apple Watch SE
- Galaxy Watch 3 and 4
- Garmin Fenix 5 and 6
- Lively Wearable 2
When is the next Fitbit Update?
If you’re a loyal Fitbit user, you might have to wait until their next release to get incident detection. Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly when this will be.
However, the brand usually leaves 18 months between releases. This means we could see a new Inspire 3 in March 2022 and a new Fitbit Sense 2, or a Fitbit Versa 4 at the end of 2022. This would also coincide with the new watch launches with Google’s latest Wear OS3 release, making it a likely launch.
Fitbit already offers some of the best health and fitness metrics in the smartwatch industry. So, it won’t be long until they also offer incident detection and emergency contacts. While waiting might seem frustrating, you can experiment with other brands or third-party detection apps in the meantime.
Read more about fall detection technology:
- Emergency Response solutions
- How does fall detection work on Apple watches?
- How does fall detection work on Garmin watches?
- How does fall detection work on Fitbit watches?
- How does fall detection work on Samsung watches?
- Fall Detection Solutions for Seniors
What do you think about incident detection? Are you looking forward to Fitbit including it on their smartwatches? Let us know in the comments!
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Isobel is a freelance copy and content writer who regularly contributes to Superwatches. Well-versed in all the ins and outs of the smartwatch industry. Isobel specializes in Fashion and design and is a First Class fashion design graduate.
Currently lives in Bournemouth, United Kingdom.