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Apple Watch may not fully work with tattooed users and dark skin

Some early Apple Watch adopters are already complaining that the device’s hear rate sensor fails to work on tattooed wrists, while dark skin could also prove an issue.

Reports have started trickling in from tattooed users, claiming that the watch’s heart rate sensor doesn’t appear to work – and the problem seems to lie with their ink.

Apple’s watch, which was finally released last Friday after a prolonged period in limbo, has a heart rate sensor built into the inside of the case which “uses green LED lights paired with light-sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood flowing through your wrist any given moment”. This tech appears to be the problem for folk who have heavy red, blue or black tattooing on their chosen wrist, as the pigments in their skin effectively act as an obstruction.

These issues first came to light in a series of posts on Reddit, with users conducting their own tests which showed the watch performing consistently on non-tattooed wrists, but struggling and ultimately delivering inconsistent results on wrists which had been decorated.

Some users also found that heavy scarring, such as keloid formations which occur after injury or surgery, can also b0rk the watch’s results for exactly the same reason.

Apple is doubtless aware of the issue by now, but it’s hard to see how the company can roll out a fix for something which is a product of the device’s hardware functionality, especially given the prospective cost involved. It’s much more likely to be a problem solved in the inevitable Apple Watch 2, and something that early adopters will have to like or lump.

So, if you’ve got arm tats that a premiership footballer would be proud of, you might be better off choosing an alternative wearable as your fitness tracker. Unless you couldn’t give a flying fecal matter about monitoring your ticker, of course.


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