Anyone that has spent any amount of the time on the Internet since the Apple Watch launched last Friday is probably aware that Apple’s newest gadget doesn’t play nice with tattoos.
Almost as soon as the Apple Watch made it out into the wild, reports started to filter out that Apple’s newest gadget had trouble producing an accurate heart rate reading when affixed to a tattooed wrist. The Reddit hive mind reasoned that certain ink pigments cause the Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor, which uses green LED lights to penetrate the skin and read changes in one’s blood vessels and capillaries, to not function properly.
Now, Apple has taken to its support site to confirm the reports.
“Permanent or temporary changes to your skin, such as some tattoos, can also impact heart rate sensor performance. The ink, pattern, and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings,” says Apple’s website.
Apple suggests to use a external heart rate monitor if a clean wrist is unavailable, which somewhat defeats the whole point of purchasing the device in the first place.
As Engadget notes, this is not a problem that’s limited to the Apple Watch. Any device that uses a similar method for measuring a person’s heart rate will have the same issue. For instance, the Fitbit Charge HR suffers from the same problem.