Apple Watch Doesn’t Work for People With Tattoos

April 29, 2015 Updated: April 30, 2015

Following the release of the highly anticipated Apple Watch some users with their arms tattooed are reporting that key functionalities of the watch don’t work for them.

Users are discussing the issue on reddit and are posting videos of their experience on Youtube.

The most common problems reported include the watch frequently asking users for their password, notifications not coming through, and inaccurate readings of user’s heartbeat.

One Apple Watch user posted a video to YouTube apparently showing how the sensors of the watch failed while measuring a workout, as well as the watch repeatedly locking itself and asking for a password.

The Apple Watch uses green LED lights and light sensitive photodiodes, which converts light into electric current, to detect what your heart beat is.

In order to achieve this, the LED light flashes hundreds of times per second, while the sensor absorbs the green light reflected from your blood veins, according to the Apple website. When your heart beats, more blood flows through the veins and the reflection of the green light is greater, thus measuring a heartbeat. 

A screenshot of a video posted to YouTube by Michael Lovell showing how he has to frequently re-enter his password when wearing his Apple Watch on his tattooed arm.
A screenshot of a video posted to YouTube by Michael Lovell showing how he has to frequently re-enter his password when wearing his Apple Watch on his tattooed arm.

It appears that tattoos, especially tattoos with a dark pigment, obstruct the ability of the sensors to make an accurate reading of the wearer’s veins.

Tests conducted by the technology blog iMore show that dark, solid colors give most of the trouble.

“Our tests on solid black and red initially produced heart rate misreadings of up to 196 BPM before failing to read skin contact entirely,” the article said.

The site says that tests on lighter tattoo colors showed that the problems were limited to misreadings.

So far, Apple has not released sales data yet on the number of Apple Watches sold. The watch, which went on sale last Friday, ranges in price from $349 to $17,000.

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