Blood-Oxygen Monitoring to be Excluded in Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9
Apple is navigating choppy legal waters to keep its latest smartwatches on US store shelves. A patent dispute with medical company Masimo briefly banned sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 stateside last December. Now documents reveal Apple could resort to temporarily disabling key health tracking features to avoid another blockade.
At issue is the Watch’s blood oxygen monitoring which Masimo claims infringes on its intellectual property. Rather than ditch the SpO2 sensor altogether, Apple won a stay on the ban while appealing the ruling.
But the company has backup plans if its appeal falls short. According to internal documents, Apple may ship watches to US retailers with SpO2 tracking switched off – avoiding permanent injunction by working around the disputed technology.
Disabling blood oxygen scans would allow uninterrupted sales while Apple and Masimo hopefully negotiate an agreement. Then a simple over-the-air software update could potentially reactivate the dormant sensors once legal storm clouds clear.
For now SpO2 tracking remains available to US Watch owners as the suit plays out. And internationally the legal spat only impacts potential US sales.
It’s a clever contingency demonstrating Apple’s resolve to keep its wearable momentum going despite courtroom disputes. Even if US models ship oxygen-monitoring-impaired for a spell, the company likely wagered a hobbled Series 9 was better than no Series 9 at all in such a pivotal market.
Because while health tech patents prove fertile ground for lawsuits, consumer demand for life-saving wearable analytics continues accelerating. And Apple seems unwilling to surrender an inch of hard-fought turf in that space without an ingenious fight.