A class-action case has been raised in New York over Apple, claiming that the blood oxygen sensor in the Apple Watch generates improper readings for persons of colour.
The lawsuit, which had been issued on Saturday on request of a handful of Apple customers and New York citizens, stated that the pulse oximeter tech is “significantly less accurate in measuring blood oxygen levels based on skin colour.”
Based on studies carried out during the Covid-19 pandemic that proved the clinical implications of pulse oximetry’s “racial bias,” this claim has been made.
A variety of sensors are often used in pulse oximeters to calculate the amount of oxygen throughout a red blood cell by emitting infrared and visible lights through the user’s skin and evaluating how much of the light is consumed.
The complaint alleged that although wearables like “the Product”—the Apple Watch—take blood oxygen values from the wrist, conventional fingertips pulse oximeters used by doctors can detect blood oxygen levels and pulse rate.
According to the study, systems built for fingertip detecting are “unsuitable” when used on wrist data and can conclude in “over 90% of readings being unusable.”
“Though one recent study concluded the Product was able to detect reduced blood oxygen saturation in comparison to medical-grade pulse oximeters, this fails to recognise the failings of pulse oximetry in general with respect to persons of colour,” the lawsuit said.
The latest version of Apple Watch costs between $400-$800, a “premium price” – based on features such as its “Blood Oxygen” app – according to the lawsuit.
Plaintiff Alex Morales in New York “would not have purchased the Product or paid as much if the facts had been known, suffering damages,” it said.
Whereas Apple recognizes on its website that “permanent or temporary changes” to the skin, such as the ones produced by tattoos, may impact its item’s blood oxygen readings, the firm does not discuss in detail how such a human’s natural skin tone may influence the outcome.
The lawsuit alleged Apple “misrepresented and/or omitted the attributes and qualities of Apple Watch” and that it did not “incorporate biases and defects of pulse oximetry with respect to persons of darker skin tone”.
It has demanded a court hearing and alleged that by misrepresenting the features of its item, Apple was involved in fraud and benefited itself unfairly.