A New York man filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple on Dec. 24, alleging that the Apple Watch’s blood oximeter has a “racial bias” against people with darker skin tones.
The Blood Oxygen app is available on Apple Watch Series 6 and newer and can “measure your blood oxygen levels on demand directly from your wrist, giving you insight into your overall well-being,”[ads1]; Apple explains.
New York resident Alex Morales claims he bought an Apple Watch between 2020 and 2021, and was aware the watch “claimed to measure blood oxygen levels, and he believed it did so 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 in pulse oximetry” using patient records.
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“For decades, there have been reports that such devices were significantly less accurate in measuring blood oxygen levels based on skin color,” the lawsuit states.
“The ‘real meaning’ of this bias remained unaddressed until the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, which converged with a greater awareness of structural racism that exists in many aspects of society.”
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Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. The tech company notes on its website that the Blood Oxygen app is “designed for general exercise and wellness purposes only.”
“Blood Oxygen app measurements are not intended for medical use, including self-diagnosis or consultation with a physician,” Apple writes.