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One of the more timely WWDC announcements was Apple Watch handwashing detection. The coronavirus crisis means everyone is being encouraged to wash their hands more frequently, and to ensure that we’re doing so thoroughly.
But the handwashing detection feature wasn’t developed hastily in response, says Apple, but was rather years in development …
WHO and CDC guidelines recommend handwashing for at least 20 seconds, and watchOS 7 aims to automatically detect when you’re washing your hands, and to start a 20-second countdown timer with a cute animation. If it detects that you have stopped washing your hands before the time is up, it politely prompts you to keep going.
Washing hands properly for at least 20 seconds can help prevent the spread of illness. In a first-of-its-kind innovation for a wearable, Apple Watch uses the motion sensors, microphone, and on-device machine learning to automatically detect handwashing motions and sounds. It then initiates a 20-second countdown timer, and if the user finishes early, they will be prompted to keep washing. Apple Watch can also conveniently remind the user to wash their hands when they return home.
The Health app on iPhone will show frequency and duration of the user’s handwashing, as well as information on the importance of handwashing, as it relates to overall health. Sounds used to detect handwashing are not automatically recorded or saved by the Health app or Apple Watch.
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