A lawsuit alleges Apple Watch's pulse oximeter is racist

A New Yorker has sued Apple claiming the Blood Oxygen app, a major selling point of the Apple Watch since model 6, works differently based on skin color. As the pulse oximeter reads O2 through the skin of the wrist, it is likely the device and its software has varying success based on the amount of pigment in our skin.

NY Post:

New York resident Alex Morales alleges that he purchased an Apple Watch between 2020 and 2021, and was aware that the watch "purported to measure blood oxygen levels and he believed it did this without regard to skin tone," according to the lawsuit, which was filed in the Southern District of New York.

The lawsuit further alleges that during the coronavirus pandemic, researchers "confirmed the clinical significance of racial bias of pulse oximetry" using patients' records.

"For decades, there have been reports that such devices were significantly less accurate in measuring blood oxygen levels based on skin color," the lawsuit reads.

"The 'real world significance' of this bias lay unaddressed until the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, which converged with a greater awareness of structural racism which exists in many aspects of society."

"Blood Oxygen app measurements are not intended for medical use, including self-diagnosis or consultation with a doctor," Apple writes.