If you have a tattoo sleeve an Apple Watch may not be for you, the ink knocks off the heart rate monitor
Proud new owners of an Apple Watch are taking to social media sites across the web to report an interesting problem with their new tech toy. If you have a wrist tattoo or a whole sleeve the Apple Watch heart rate monitor looses its connection. Reporting inaccurate results anytime its sitting over a tattoo. A problem that initially doesn’t sound all that bad, until you consider how the watch handles security.
Anytime the Apple Watch detects that its come off its owner’s wrist it asks for a security code before it lets you back in. In a YouTube video posted by iMore you can see that tattooed owners can run into this problem constantly. Any time the Apple Watch heart monitor loses connection because of ink on the user’s skin it will believe its come off. Forcing them to put in their security code almost every time they plan to use an app.
Those results seem to vary though depending on the color of the ink. According to the tests done by iMore dark and solid ink colors are the biggest offenders with red and black leading the charge. Users with patterned and light colored tattoos will fair much better with iMore only running into heart monitor results that are not completely off.
Apple to their credit did point out on their website that a problem like this could happen they just didn’t specifically mention that tattoos could be a culprit. This is how the Apple Watch site breaks down how it works, explaining how tattoos might be a problem:
Blood is red because it reflects red light and absorbs green light. Apple Watch uses green LED lights paired with light‑sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood flowing through your wrist at any given moment. When your heart beats, the blood flow in your wrist — and the green light absorption — is greater. Between beats, it’s less. By flashing its LED lights hundreds of times per second, Apple Watch can calculate the number of times the heart beats each minute — your heart rate.
It’s the same technique employed by other fitness trackers like Fitbit whose users are faced with the same issue. So the problem should come as no surprise to people who are familiar with the technology but for customers new to wearable tech. If Apple wants to avoid adding headache onto the Apple Watch’s bug problems they should update their site. Alerting tattooed customers what they will be contending with when their shiny new tech piece arrives. In the meantime if your thinking of picking up an Apple Watch you should drop buy the nearest Apple Store to give it a test run.
No one wants to spend at least $350 on a a gadget that’s going to constantly think it’s been disconnected. Hopefully Apple will be able to find a solution soon so we can all enjoy their latest must have tech toy.