The pulse oximeter might be disabled on newly purchased Apple Watch Series 9
and Apple Watch Ultra 2
models in the U.S., but on units of these timepieces bought before the International Trade Commission (ITC) put the hammer down and issued an Exclusion Order on these models, the feature still works. And older Apple Watch models dating back to the Apple Watch 6 include the pulse oximeter (not including the SE models).
The pulse oximeter measures the saturation of oxygen in a person’s red blood cells. A normal reading is in the range of 95% to 100%. A reading under 92% could indicate hypoxia which is a condition that develops if a person’s tissues fail to receive enough oxygen.
Joe Kiani, the CEO of Masimo, the company that filed the patent infringement suit against Apple that led to the ITC’s Exclusion Order, recently said that consumers should avoid using the pulse oximeter on the Apple Watch
. Despite this comment, nearly a couple of weeks ago the feature saved the life of an airline passenger who was on a Ryanair flight from Birmingham, U.K. to to Verona, Italy. The passenger, a woman in her 70s, was feeling short of breath leading the crew on the aircraft to search for a doctor onboard.
The Apple Watch pulse oximeter was borrowed by the doctor from the crew on a Ryanair flight
Luckily, aboard the flight was Nation Health Service (NHS) Doctor Rashid Riaz who was told that the woman had an existing heart condition. Dr. Riaz borrowed an Apple Watch from the crew. “The Apple Watch helped me to find out the patient had low oxygen saturation,” Dr. Riaz said. While the flight continued, an oxygen cylinder was used on the passenger until the flight landed in Italy an hour later. The passenger was helped off the plane by medical staff.
Talking about the pulse oximeter on the Apple Watch, Dr. Riaz said, “I used a lot of my own learning during this flight on how to use the gadget. It is a lesson in how we can improve in-flight journeys [with] this sort of emergency [via] a basic gadget which nowadays is easily available.” He added, “These things can save someone’s life in an emergency situation,”
The pulse oximeter on the Apple Watch was able to help the doctor realize what the passenger’s problem was and how he could help her recover during the flight.