Thursday September 29, 2022

The Samsung advertisement for Tone-deaf Samsung is a reminder of how smartwatch safety has a long way to go

Samsung is being criticized for a recent advertisement that featured a woman running alone at 2AM in a city wearing a Galaxy Watch 4 with Galaxy Buds. In the wake of Ashling Murphy’s murder, a 23-year-old Irish woman was run down in Dublin in January. The ad was criticized for being unrealistic and tone-deaf. The ad doesn’t mention the dangers of nighttime running. However, this makes sense as many smartwatch manufacturers don’t seem to understand the risks.
Samsung’s intentions are clear. The ad aims to show how easy it can be to use Galaxy devices together, and to “empower” users not to take their phones with them. It’s a major drawcard for LTE-enabled smartwatches, especially for runners. Many high-end devices like the Apple Watch and Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 have fall detection and emergency call features. Samsung’s SOS alerts can be set up to notify the designated contacts of their location, and how to track them in “unthinkable” situations.
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These features are not automatically enabled and require specific technical skills. For example, fall detection is something you must enable. You may not have done this during setup and it could cause you to never do it. It may not be “on” at all times even if it is enabled. For example, the Apple Watch allows users to enable fall detection only during workouts. After a while, it’s easy for people to forget how they’ve set this setting.
An LTE-enabled smartwatch is required in certain situations for emergency SOS alerts. Garmin’s version requires that users have their phones with them. Other watches require you to be connected with a Wi-Fi network that has Wi-Fi calling enabled. You will also need to make sure you have a list of emergency contacts. These features can be set up ahead of time, but you will need to know how to activate them for your smartwatch model. Fall detection is automatic, but SOS calling can be activated by the user. You may not be as safe if you do any of these things incorrectly or don’t have a signal.
Smartwatches are not phone replacements. You can’t always rely upon their emergency features, regardless of how they’re marketed. It’s convenient to use NFC to purchase a Gatorade at your local deli after a run. It’s convenient to stream your music directly to your wrist, or to avoid missing important calls while on an errand. It’s a completely different situation if your safety is at stake. I’ve been in close calls and it’s difficult to remember how to activate the smartwatch SOS alarm among many other controls. This is especially true if you don’t have time to refresh your knowledge.
Safety while running outdoors is a concern for many. A 2019 Runners World survey revealed that 84 percent had been harassed while running, while only 70 percent of men were. A disturbing 94% of women said that they were harassed by someone and that no one helped. Despite this, tech-based solutions are still fragmented. Strava, an app that allows you to edit your routes, will make it impossible for potential stalkers to see where you are running or where you’re stopping. ADT’s Invisawear is another wearable device that creates fitness bands that can connect you to emergency services if necessary, but they don’t track your activity. Garmin recently introduced a no-touch LED flashlight that can be used to light up nighttime runs on its 51mm Fenix 7X watch, which is too large for most women.
While Samsung’s intention with this ad was likely not malicious, it is a sobering reminder of the fact that smartwatches and wearable tech have not reached the point where anyone can exercise at any time.

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