Skip to Content
Security & privacy

Apple Watch heart rate data could help solve a murder

One of the best things about the Apple Watch is it can do far more than the average watch. Essentially an iPhone on your wrist, it truly is an incredible device.

Normally we think of it as being great for apps, calendars, exercise and yes, even keeping time, which is fine because it is great for all of that. But, it turns out the Apple Watch can do even more than that.

If necessary, it looks like the watch can also help solve crime. Or, at least it can be asked to help out.

When a watch is a witness

The idea stems from an Australian murder trial, with the victim’s Apple Watch providing details of their final moments. The way the prosecutors see it, the heart rate monitor offers clues as to when the time of death actually was.


The argument is that 26-year-old Caroline Nilsson claims her mother-in-law Myrna Nilsson had been attacked and killed by a group of men who invaded her home following a road rage incident. That all sounds plausible, but it’s not the argument prosecutors are making.

Instead, they are saying data from the watch helps paint a picture of the time and style of attack, one that does not match up with the defendant’s story. In their eyes, the watch’s heart rate and movement tracking show the victim had a sudden burst of heightened activity on the day of her death, one that was followed by a pronounced slowdown in movement.

That, prosecutors say, is consistent with someone who has been attacked. In this case, they believe it shows she was attacked around 6:38 p.m. before passing away at 6:45 p.m.

The defendant says the argument with the attackers lasted for about 20 minutes leading up to the murder, a story that does not jive with the Apple Watch’s data.

It is not known if Apple helped police with their investigation and the release of the data, and the trial itself is expected to last until June, which is when the courts will decide if it can be used as accurate evidence.

A similar thing has happened before

It was nearly one year ago when similar technology helped solve a murder case. This time, it was a 2015 murder in Connecticut, with a Fitbit helping to crack the case.

Though not as data-heavy as the Apple Watch, the Fitbit stored enough information that, when combined with the victim’s Facebook posts, helped to determine what actually happened.

That all sounds helpful but is it legal?

As technology improves and does more to track our lives, the question will naturally be about the legality of using any of the data collected in cases like this. Along with the accuracy of such information, there is also a concern about privacy.

How much should police, courts and the government be able to access? It was only last month we learned of how police in Ohio attempted to use a dead man’s fingerprint to unlock an iPhone in search of evidence, and there have been stories about Police asking Google to turn over data near a crime scene, too.

Alexa could help you in a dangerous situation

Can Alexa help with more serious tasks, like in an emergency situation? The answer is yes, it now has a skill that could actually come to the rescue. That’s why you need to know how to get Alexa to call 911. Keep reading to learn how it might just save your life one day.

cryptocurrency e-book hero

New eBook: ‘Cryptocurrency 101’

Don't want to lose your dough to crypto? Check out my new eBook, "Cryptocurrency 101." I walk you through buying, selling, mining and more!

Check it out