Lawsuit: Apple Watch Feature Biased Against Dark Skin – IOTW Report

Lawsuit: Apple Watch Feature Biased Against Dark Skin

Station Gossip –
Apple, Inc. was slapped with a new class action lawsuit Christmas Eve alleging the pulse oximetry feature on the Apple Watch product doesn’t work on people with a “darker skin tone.”

Plaintiff Alex Morales of New York filed a multi-state lawsuit on behalf of the state and nine others under consumer fraud laws against the tech giant in the Southern District of New York last week.

Morales, who said he purchased an Apple Watch between 2020 and 2021, claims he was unaware the pulse oximetry feature, which measures the oxygen level of a wearer’s blood directly from their wrist, was biased against people with darker skin tones.

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

According to the lawsuit, researchers claim the clinical significance of racial bias in pulse oximetry came from records of patients taken during and before the pandemic. MORE

17 Comments on Lawsuit: Apple Watch Feature Biased Against Dark Skin

  1. This is like those videos where the automatic faucets in public restrooms are claimed to be “biased” against dark skinned hands and won’t turn on. That’s such a crock!
    Those sensors use infrared technology, which is looking for thermal radiation differences and not the visible light spectrum. The people that create the videos purposely chill the dark skinned person’s hands so the sensor won’t “see” them.

  2. pulse ox which is typically out on a finger nail can get fooled if there is dark nail polish or the patient’s extremity is cold. of that is the case we place the pulse ox on the upper finger below the nail bed. Not once has the pulse ox we use been fooled by dark skin. either this lawsuit is BS or Apple has a bizarre way to measure O2 sats

  3. aircubed December 30, 2022 at 9:48 am

    Watches are only for white people because being on time is racist.

    I’m pretty sure it’s because white people know how to read, write, add and subtract, and be responsible. I think FitBit got sued for not being accurate. I don’t even own a clock that’s accurate, but it’s right at least 2 times a day. What’s the problem?

  4. Jethro — they don’t turn on for me, either. And I am prohibited by law from wearing shorts anywhere near the flight path of an airport because the reflection off of my legs would blind pilots.

  5. “A pulse oximeter clips painlessly onto your finger. Inside the pulse oximeter, there is a light source and a light detector. When you hit the button on your pulse oximeter, the device sends red and infrared light through your finger.

    Hemoglobin is a protein molecule that exists inside your red blood cells. Hemoglobin carries oxygen and carbon dioxide around the body. The light detector inside the pulse oximeter senses how much red light and how much infrared light is absorbed as the light passes through your finger and your red blood cells.

    Oxygenated hemoglobin absorbs more infrared light, while deoxygenated hemoglobin absorbs more red light. The sensor inside a pulse oximeter uses the ratio of red light to infrared light (after the light passes through your finger) to measure your blood oxygen saturation levels.”

  6. Meh. We didn’t even HAVE pulse oxymeters back in the day, but we were still able to tell if people were dead or not, regardless of their color.

    Really dark skin did increase the difficulty of some things, like assessing capillary refill, but if you weren’t an idiot you could still tell about things like distal pulses, temperature, etc., and you could look at palms of hands, soles of feet, gums, inside of lip for a few to assess pallor and cyanosis.

    And Black people with perfusion issues can get ashy if there’s severe trouble, but behavior as in everything is your best guide to how much trouble a patient is even without some fancy shmancy LED to light your way.

  7. A lot of this stuff is just stupid for general use anyway, be it for White or Black people.

    People have lived for many thousands of years without a real time update on the SaO2. It isn’t particuarly helpful to know it now, especially from a non-calibrated device used in a casual and imprecise manner. It’s an index, nothing more, other assessment is necessary to see if there’s a real problem and correct it if so. This isn’t a glucose test for a diabetic, it’s a perfusion test for hypocondriac idiots who are going to use it as another number to obsess over and clog the medical system – what’s left of it – up with their poorly measured stats and advice they got off the Interwebs.

    My favorite though is this dealy they have that acutually returns an EKG trace. It’s a cool thing to look at, I ain’t gonna lie, but its taken with fingertips on a pad that may be fouled, shorted, lying on a moist surface, possibly with jittery contact, and with the device or the cables thereto possibly around unshielded current that may cause artifact in the trace. Most people don’t know what the trace means anyway, it does take some training to tell if a T wave is abnormal or if the QRS complex is too long or short, and whether its wrong at all or just because you shifted around during measurement.

    I know what people will do with this; look up how to analyze an EKG trace on the Internet.

    I apologize on behalf of the jackass company that put this in people’s hands to all the cardiologist who get flooded with people convinced they are dying because a medical chat filled with other untrained users of this inaccurate device said they probably are and they should get to their doctor right away.

    …setting all that aside, your doctor is far more likey to push you off a cliff than pull you back these days, so I don’t know why you want to get hyped up for this anyway, as he might even humor you by putting you on meds that WILL screw your cardiac chemistry up, assuming you didn’t start a Dr. Interwebs diet that did the same thing.

    At some point they will have MAiD program here, and your “Smart” phone will probably assess your SaO2 and heart rhythms and recommend you for euthinasia automatically.

    Maybe DON’T make it easy for them?

    …Because the Pedo administration will probably make your enrollment in an American MAiD program MANDITORY.

  8. My fair skin makes me burn while others tan. Who do I sue?

    BTW: Remember the hefty tax Obamacare imposed on tanning salons because they were unhealthy? Funny how the hair salons that offer hair straightening and braiding weren’t subject to the same, in spite of the chemical exposure and alopecia… Could it have something to do with the clientele of the two different types of salons? Axing for friends; I don’t frequent either.

  9. Well the Superintendent of schools in Portland, ME, an African import, is racist against whites. He even defends having a career advancement program only for blacks.
    Although in my dna profile about 6 generations back I have Nigerian and Indian in me. Maybe I should apply.

    This lawsuit is just another of these anti white dog whistles.


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