“Tone Def” Samsung ads remind us that smartwatches aren’t secure yet

Samsung has been accused of a recent ad depicting a woman wearing a Galaxy Watch 4 and a Galaxy Bad running alone in the middle of the city at 2 am. Critics have described the ad as both “unrealistic” and “deaf” in the wake of the killing of 23-year-old Ashling Murphy, who was killed while running in Dublin, Ireland in January. calling. The ads aren’t aware of the dangers of running at night, but it doesn’t seem to make sense because many smartwatch makers don’t seem to understand that limited safety features can cause runners to fail. It is.

Samsung has since apologized for advertising, BBC Radio 1 Not intended to be “insensitive to ongoing conversations about women’s safety,” the “Night Owls” campaign was designed with the positive message of celebrating individuality and the freedom to exercise at all times. rice field. “

I understand Samsung’s intentions. This ad emphasizes how easy it is to use a Galaxy device together and aims to allow users to keep their mobile phones at home. For many people, especially runners, this is a big attraction for LTE-enabled smartwatches. Many high-end devices, including Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 and Apple Watch, are also increasingly including fall detection and emergency calls. For Samsung, users can set up SOS alerts to notify specified contacts of their location and how to track them in “unthinkable” situations.

The important thing is that these features are not automatic and have their own technical requirements. For example, fall detection is something you need to select to enable it. If you do not do this during setup, you may not be able to do this while you mistakenly believe it is active. Even if it is enabled, it may not always be considered “on”.For example, Apple Watch gives users An option to enable only fall detection during a workout. It’s easy to forget how you configured this setting for the first time in a while.

In some cases, an LTE-enabled version of your smartwatch is required for emergency SOS alerts. In Garmin’s version, users usually need to wear their cell phone to their person. Other watches require you to enable Wi-Fi calling and connect to a known Wi-Fi network. You also need to take some time to specify the emergency contact in advance. In addition to pre-configuring these features, you also need to know how to activate them on your particular smartwatch model. (Fall detection is automatic, but SOS calls are often activated by the user.) If any of these aren’t done correctly or the signal isn’t right, it may not be as secure as you might think. ..

Regardless of how smartwatches are sold, they are not a true phone replacement and cannot always rely on emergency features. Indeed, it is convenient to use NFC payments to buy Gatorade at a local deli after execution. It’s also convenient because you don’t have to stream music directly to your wrist or miss important calls while you’re on the go. But when your safety is at stake, it’s a completely different situation. Unfortunately, I’ve made a good percentage of close calls. If you’re afraid of safety, it can be difficult to remember how to activate smartwatch SOS alerts among the myriad other controls. It turns on from time to time.

For many, safety while running outdoors is a real concern. 2019 Runners World According to the survey, 84% of women were harassed, while 70% of men were not harassed. A disturbing 94% of women also said that no one helped them while they were being harassed. Still, technology-based solutions to mitigate this problem are still fragmented. In some apps, such as Strava, you can edit the route so that potential stalkers can’t see where the start or end of the run. Other wearable devices, such as invisaWear, can create fitness bands with ADT to connect to emergency services if they feel unsafe but aren’t actually tracking activity. Garmin recently unveiled a promising no-touch LED flashlight for night runners on the 51mm Fenix ​​7X. This is a huge watch size that eliminates most women.

So while Samsung’s intentions for this ad may not have been malicious, smartwatches and wearable technology are keenly aware that no one has reached the point of being “free to exercise at any time.” I am.

Correction May 4, 1:00 pm ET: Earlier versions of this article stated that invisaWear was owned by ADT, not ADT’s technology. We apologize for the error.

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