With watchOS 7, Apple is adding a handwashing detection feature to the Apple Watch. While many might think the company is introducing this feature due to the ongoing pandemic that has led to an increased focus on handwashing, but that is actually not the case. Apple started working on the handwashing app for the Apple Watch a few years ago.
As per Apple’s VP of Technology Kevin Lynch, the company is introducing the handwashing app to the Apple Watch with watchOS7 after “years of work.” While Samsung raced to add a handwashing app to its smartwatches, Apple’s implementation is far superior to the competition. The feature is automatically triggered when one starts washing their hands which in turn starts a 20 seconds timer. Using the accelerometer, the wearable is able to detect the handwashing pattern and further uses the microphone for additional data including listening to the sound of running water. In case one stops washing their hands before 20 seconds, the wearable sends a nudge to encourage users to it thoroughly.
The system uses machine learning models to tackle different methods, but the system gets an additional nudge from the Watch’s microphone. Along with motion, the app listens for the sound of running water. Even that’s not enough, though — after all, eco sinks have become increasingly popular, meaning that there’s often less water sound to be listening for. The sound of squishing soap takes care of that last bit. It’s got a unique enough audio signature so as to confirm that handwashing is taking place.
Apple even logs the number of times one washes their hands in the Health app making its implementation far ahead of anything else in the market. In comparison, Samsung’s implementation is pretty barebones and it requires the wearer to actually start the countdown manually before they start washing their hands.