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Conventional pulse oximeters are accurate at high oxygen saturation under a variety of physiological conditions but show worsening accuracy at lower saturation (below 70%). Numerical modeling suggests that sensors fabricated with 735 and 890 nm emitters should read more accurately at low saturation under a variety of conditions than sensors made with conventionally used 660 and 900 nm band emitters. Recent animal testing confirms this expectation. It is postulated that the most repeatable and stable accuracy of the pulse oximeter occurs when the fractional change in photon path lengths due to perturbations in the tissue (relative to the conditions present during system calibration) is equivalent at the two wavelengths. Additionally, the penetration depth (and/or breadth) of the probing light needs to be well matched at the two wavelengths in order to minimize the effects of tissue heterogeneity. At high saturation these conditions are optimally met with 660 and 900 nm band emitters, while at low saturation 735 and 890 nm provide better performance.