New Lawsuit Alleges Apple Watch Sensor Has Racial Bias

According to a new class action lawsuit, the blood oxygen sensor found in the Apple Watch is racially biased against people with dark skin tones, Apple Insider is reporting.

Apple watch

Plaintiff Alex Morales, who bought an Apple Watch between 2020 and 2021, claims he didn’t know the pulse oximetry features of the watch are affected by skin tone.

Morales filed the lawsuit on December 24 on behalf of all New York consumers who bought an Apple Watch during the statutes of limitations.

The lawsuit also accuses Apple of breaches of express warranty, fraud, and unjust enrichment, claiming violations of New York General Business Law and State Consumer Fraud Acts.

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

“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,” it adds.

The lawsuit also claims that researchers “confirmed the clinical significance of racial bias of pulse oximetry using records of patients taken during and before the pandemic.”

As a result, “reliance on pulse oximetry to triage patients and adjust supplemental oxygen levels may place Black patients at increased risk for hypoxemia.”

Morales has also sued Apple on behalf of residents in Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming under those states’ consumer fraud laws.

Back in 2015, some users complained that black wrist tattoos interfered with the device’s heart sensor. Apple later confirmed the issue by saying any changes to your skin, such as some tattoos, can also impact heart rate sensor performance.