The Download: how to improve pulse oximeters, and OpenAI’s chip plans


Visit any healthcare facility and one of the first things they will do is attach a pulse oximeter to your finger. These devices, which track heart rate and blood oxygen, offer vital information about a person's health.

But they are also imperfect. For people with dark skin, pulse oximeters may overestimate the amount of oxygen carried by their blood. This means that a person with dangerously low oxygen levels may appear healthy, according to the pulse oximeter.

The United States Food and Drug Administration is still trying to find a solution to this problem. Last week, an FDA advisory committee met to brainstorm better ways to evaluate the performance of these devices in people with varying skin tones. But engineers have also thought about this problem. Cassandra Willyard studied why they are biased and what technological solutions might be possible. Take a look at what she discovered.

This story is from The Checkup, our weekly biotechnology and health newsletter. Register to receive it in your inbox every Thursday.

Essential readings

I've scoured the internet to find you today's most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 OpenAI plans to disrupt the chip industry
By investing billions of dollars in an ambitious new project. (WSJ $)
+ AMD is also considering breaking Nvidia's chip choke. (Economist $)
+ OpenAI COO builds startup into commercial powerhouse. (Bloomberg $)
+ The company has surpassed the $2 billion revenue mark. (FT $)
+ Why China is betting big on chiplets. (MIT Technology Review)

Two US regulators have banned AI-generated robocalls
In an effort to get ahead of audio deepfakes disrupting the presidential election. (AP News)
+ That doesn't mean the calls won't continue to come in, though. (TechCrunch)
+ Iranian hackers infiltrated UAE streaming services with a deepfake newsreader. (The Guardian)



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