Last fall, as Apple prepared to launch the iPhone 6, the company announced that Siri, the well-known iPhone program that answers user questions and gives advice, would now have the capability to respond to the command "Hey, Siri," even when the user isn't actually holding the phone. In other words, as long as the phone is within "hearing" distance, it responds to "Hey, Siri." This capability came to extraordinary use recently when Siri helped save a baby girl's life.
According to Yahoo News, Australian mom Stacey Gleeson noticed on her 1-year-old's baby monitor that her daughter had turned blue and wasn't breathing. She ran into the room and dropped her iPhone on the carpet before picking up Giana, her daughter. Even in her panic, Gleeson remembered the new "Hey, Siri" feature, and she shouted, "Hey, Siri, call me the ambulance" from across the room.
"And then before I knew it the ambulance was on its way and Giana was breathing again," Gleeson told a local news station. Giana's father, who was away on business at the time, felt that Siri's fast-dialing abilities played an important role in saving his daughter's life. "It might have given the precious moments Stacey needed to revive Giana," he said.
This isn't the first time Siri's timely activation helped save a life. According to Forbes, and 18-year-old Tennessee teen, Sam Ray, managed to activate Siri after a 5,000-pound truck that he had been repairing collapsed on him last April. The phone was in his pocket, but he realized that Siri was activated and so he told it to call 911.
It took five attempts because Ray's voice was muffled, but the call finally connected, and the 911 operator was able figure out—despite the muffled voice—that this was an emergency call, not an accidental butt dial. Within 40 minutes, Ray was saved by local firefighters.
A similar incident occurred in 2014, when 18-year-old Connor Oliver passed out behind the wheel while suffering a seizure. He crashed into a ravine, and used Siri to call 911 rather than dialing because his fingers were numb from frostbite, according to an account of the accident at Forbes.
The cool thing about this latest Siri-save in Australia is that little Giana's mom didn't need to be holding her iPhone to call 911. Using technology introduced with the iPhone 6s in 2015, Siri can be activated remotely by voice—even if the phone isn't plugged in, and even if it's locked (though users need to activate this feature).
While this Siri feature is great, calling 911 from cell phones, in general, is less effective than many people realize. According to a downright terrifying 2015 USA Today investigation, if 911 callers aren't able to communicate their address or precise location, dispatchers have a surprisingly small ability to pinpoint the location.
According to the investigation, the ability to track the location of a 911 call depends hugely on the user's wireless carrier, the proximity of the nearest cell tower, and the tech capabilities of the 911 center. The chance that a location can be pinpointed ranges from 10 percent to 95 percent. For this reason, many households have a landline to be used just for emergencies.
Happily, in the case of Giana Gleeson, Siri came to the rescue, and the adorable little girl is alive, happy, and healthy.