Apple confirms ink in some darker wrist tattoos can interfere with Apple Watch heart rate sensor

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited May 2015
Apple this week updated a support page for the Apple Watch, revealing that the ink found in some tattoos on the wrist can in fact affect the heart rate monitor, and associated wrist detection feature, for the new wearable device.

Image Credit: Reddit user guinne55fan
Image Credit: Reddit user guinne55fan


"Permanent or temporary changes to your skin, such as some tattoos, can also impact heart rate sensor performance," the newly updated product support page reveals. "The ink, pattern, and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings."

Apple notes that users who are unable to get a consistent reading can still connect an external heart rate monitor, such as a Bluetooth chest strap, if they wish to get a pulse reading while working out with their Apple Watch.

Some early adopters of the Apple Watch took to Reddit earlier this week noting that dark wrists tattooed with black ink seemed to interfere with the heart rate sensor. This sensor goes beyond just heart rate, however, and serves as a secure -- but optional -- authorization and automatic unlocking mechanism for the Watch.

Users with dark wrist tattoos can turn off wrist detection entirely to solve the problem. The heart rate sensor on the Apple Watch uses a method known as photoplethysmography, which flashes infrared and/or green LED lights to detect blood flow.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 122
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    Apple Watch won't read dark skin:

    Racismgate
  • Reply 2 of 122
    Face it folks, tattoos are not a good idea.
  • Reply 3 of 122
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,572member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RegurgitatedCoprolite View Post



    Face it folks, tattoos are not a good idea.

     

    Although I personally don't like tattoos, the above statement is ludicrous. Not being able to wear a luxury gadget on your wrist without issues is not the end of the world.

  • Reply 4 of 122
    gtr wrote: »
    Apple Watch won't read dark skin:

    Racismgate

    Nope. Apple Watch may not read certain ink in tattoos. Reads through dark skin just fine.
  • Reply 5 of 122
    dougddougd Posts: 255member
    Tatted up people don't seems like they'd want an Apple Watch anyway.
  • Reply 6 of 122
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mazda 3s View Post

     

     

    Although I personally don't like tattoos, the above statement is ludicrous. Not being able to wear a luxury gadget on your wrist without issues is not the end of the world.


     

    So, what good are tattoos?

  • Reply 7 of 122
    cyfadcyfad Posts: 3member
    dougd wrote: »
    Tatted up people don't seems like they'd want an Apple Watch anyway.

    Have you heard of hipsters?
  • Reply 8 of 122
    larryalarrya Posts: 548member
    So far, I'd rather get the tattoo than the watch.
  • Reply 9 of 122
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,183member
    larrya wrote: »
    So far, I'd rather get the tattoo than the watch.

    Whatever.
  • Reply 10 of 122
    gtbuzzgtbuzz Posts: 129member
    It is a free country. Buy a tattoo if you want one, but don't expect miracles. It will cause you more other problems than with the watch.
  • Reply 11 of 122
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by LarryA View Post



    So far, I'd rather get the tattoo than the watch.



    Then how in the world did you end up here reading and posting about Apple Watch? 

     

    Why aren't you spending your time and energy reading Tattooinsider?

  • Reply 11 of 122
    danielswdanielsw Posts: 905member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by LarryA View Post



    So far, I'd rather get the tattoo than the watch.



    Probably just as well.

     

    I think the article's photo speaks for itself. The two don't really go well together.

     

  • Reply 13 of 122
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,149member



    Well good, that settles it. An unambiguous statement. Apple did not state that some “fix” was on the way. No software patch, no recall, no hedging. The watch sensors will not work with some dark tattoos on the wrist. Live with it, people. End of story. Can we move on now?

  • Reply 14 of 122
    nycsbnycsb Posts: 9member

    Regardless of you opinion on tattoos the fact is that 20% of the population have them and the trend is moving higher. It is a tremendous oversight on Apple's part knowing that many of their users are creatives and artists in which the percentage of tattoos is likely even higher. 

  • Reply 15 of 122
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GTBuzz View Post



    It is a free country. Buy a tattoo if you want one, but don't expect miracles. It will cause you more other problems than with the watch.



    I certainly they [tattoos] won't cause me to lose comprehension of grammar! 

  • Reply 16 of 122
    wovelwovel Posts: 956member
    lkrupp wrote: »

    Well good, that settles it. An unambiguous statement. Apple did not state that some “fix” was on the way. No software patch, no recall, no hedging. The watch sensors will not work with some dark tattoos on the wrist. Live with it, people. End of story. Can we move on now?

    Well the argument in the last thread here focused on the evil of people with tattoos, which was ridiculous. Apple took the right approach here. There may not be anything they can do about it and why should they.
  • Reply 17 of 122
    leighrleighr Posts: 183member
    You could always switch to the other wrist.
  • Reply 18 of 122
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,680member

    What about on colored people? I saw this real stupid article yesterday, asking if the Apple Watch works on people of color. 

     

    Will the Apple Watch’s coolest feature work for people of color?

    http://fusion.net/story/60771/will-the-apple-watchs-coolest-feature-work-for-people-of-color/

  • Reply 19 of 122
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,680member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by LarryA View Post



    So far, I'd rather get the tattoo than the watch.



    And if I had to choose between the two, I'd have to go with the Apple watch, instead of permanently defiling my body with nonsense. But to each his own!

  • Reply 20 of 122
    gorobotgogorobotgo Posts: 16member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GTR View Post



    Apple Watch won't read dark skin:



    Racismgate

    Way to misconstrue the problem.  Dark tattoos are the problem, not dark skin. I think Pharrell, Beyonce, Drake, or any of the other non-light-skinned early Watch owners might have complained otherwise.

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