The next version of Apple’s WatchOS, the operating system that runs on its Apple Watch, will tell users if they’re washing their hands long enough. The company announced “handwashing detection” at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) today, alongside other features of the operating system.
With handwashing detection, the Apple Watch will use motion sensors and on-device machine learning (ML) algorithms to detect hand movements that seem like you are washing your hands. It then uses its microphones to listen for flowing water, and starts a countdown timer (20 seconds) to tell you whether you’re washing your hands long enough. The timer will also be accompanied by a haptic touch and sounds, in order to grab the user’s attention.
If the user finishes early, the Watch will prompt them to keep washing their hands. It can also remind users to wash their hands when they return home. The Health app on your iPhone will show the frequency and duration of handwashing. According to Apple, the sounds the Watch uses to detect handwashing won’t be automatically recorded or saved by the Watch or the Health App.
The feature is obviously a reaction to the ongoing pandemic worldwide. Doctors and health experts have said that washing your hands regularly is of paramount importance to avoid covid-19. It’s also amongst the guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization.
There are currently over 4 lakh confirmed covid-19 cases in India and over 13,000 deaths. The number of people who have recovered stands at over 200,000.