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An Apple Watch’s Blood Oximeter Is Accused Of ‘Racial Bias’



An Apple Watch's Blood Oximeter Is Accused Of 'Racial Bias'

(CTN News) – According to a New York man who filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple on Dec. 24, he alleges that the Apple Watch’s blood oximeter is biased in favor of people with darker skin tones.

In an Apple Watch Series 6 and newer, there is now an app called Blood Oxygen that “measures the oxygen levels in your blood on-demand directly from your wrist, providing you with insights into your overall wellness,” Apple explains in the software release notes.

A New York resident named Alex Morales, who purchased an Apple Watch between 2020 and 2021, claims that he was aware the watch purported to measure blood oxygen levels.

He believed this watch did this without regard to skin tone, according to a lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York on behalf of Morales.

Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that during the Coronavirus pandemic, researchers were able to confirm racial bias in pulse oximetry through the use of patient records.

This confirmed that the bias was clinically significant.

Throughout the decades, there have been reports that such devices are significantly less accurate at measuring blood oxygen levels based on the color of a person’s skin based on the color of their skin,” the lawsuit states.

As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, the “real world significance” of this bias lay unaddressed until the middle of the crisis, when it was converged with an increased awareness of structural racism, which is prevalent in many aspects of society.

I requested a comment from Apple on Monday, but the company did not respond immediately to my inquiry.

This tech company notes on its website that the Blood Oxygen app is designed only for the purposes of general fitness and wellness. It should not be used for anything else.

It is imperative to note that blood oxygen measurements taken by the Blood Oxygen app are not intended to be used for medical purposes, including self-diagnosis or consultation with a physician.


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