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Apple Watches – specifically their blood oxygen sensor – are racist against people with dark skin tones, according to a recently filed class action lawsuit.
The man behind the racism claims, Alex Morales, filed the lawsuit on December 24 on behalf of not only all New York consumers but consumers in nine other states under consumer fraud laws.
Morales purchased an Apple Watch between 2020 and 2021, and while he was aware the device had pulse oximetry features, he was unaware it was biased toward people with darker skin tones.
Not only does Morales’ lawsuit allege Apple Watches of being racist, but he was also able to tie the controversy back to the pandemic as well.
Checking both the racism box and COVID box all in the same suit is honestly impressive from Mr. Morales.
“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.”
As a result, “reliance on pulse oximetry to triage patients and adjust supplemental oxygen levels may place Black patients at increased risk for hypoxemia,” the lawsuit also claims.
This isn’t the first claim that Apple Watches are biased toward certain skin tones. In 2015 some watch-wearers complained that black wrist tattoos interfered with the Apple Watch heart sensor.
Believe it or not, Apple actually confirmed the tattoo issue in May 2015. The admission from Apple specifically referenced “changes to your skin” and the ink from tattoos causing an impact.
“Permanent or temporary changes to your skin, such as some tattoos, can also impact heart rate sensor performance,” a support page reportedly read. “The ink, pattern, and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings.”
It will be interesting to see what comes from this lawsuit. Follow OutKick for updates along the way.