Fitbit Puts Allergen Warning Labels On Wearables

simple.b-dis-png.h45e69187310686769942b608fffea78bYou may remember the Fitbit Force, a fitness-tracking wristband that went on the market at the end of 2013, then was eventually recalled after Consumerist brought rashes caused by the devices to the world’s attention. We’ve heard reports that the Force’s less intelligent cousin, the Flex, also caused skin irritation in some wearers. Know who else heard that? The Consumer Product Safety Commission. Fortunately for Fitbit, they’re only getting a warning. Label.

This weekend, the New York Times reported that the CPSC has concluded its investigation of consumer complaints about rashes caused by the Fitbit Flex, and their conclusion is…that Fitbit has to clearly warn future customers who buy the Flex (and other rumored wristbands that may be released soon) that the product’s metal parts contain nickel, a metal which some people are allergic to or may develop an allergy to after sustained exposure. The company will also provide better “sizing guidelines” meant to prevent customers from wearing their bands too tight or purchasing the wrong size.

Many Fitbit Force rash sufferers believed that their problems were caused by something in the wristband’s adhesive, and not a nickel allergy or poor hygiene. Last week, Fitbit vindicated these customers, announcing that the adhesive that holds their wristbands together contains a small amount of methacrylates. Normally, molecules in that family of chemicals bond together tightly, but if a few molecules left the fold, they could cause an allergic reaction.

“The reaction is not dangerous, it’s just that people may now be sensitized and run into problems when they encounter it in other settings,” Dr. Bruce Brod, a dermatologist and president-elect of the American Contact Dermatitis Society, told the Times. While they might not have experienced any skin irritation until months into constant wear of their fitness wristbands, they would react right away after future exposure to similar chemicals. Yay.

Meanwhile, someone at Fitbit decided to metaphorically shout, “Hey, everyone! Look over there!” and leaked information about the company’s next top-of-the-line product. Yes, the Verge got hold of what looks like photos of a computer screen showing promotional materials for a still-unannounced product, a $250 smartwatch targeted at athletes but meant for all-day wear that has GPS and a heart rate monitor. If this is a real product, it will be called the Fitbit Surge. Fortunately, that name means that there’s a television ad for the product ready to go. Sort of.

Fitbit Says It Will Make Changes to Address Complaints About Allergic Reactions [New York Times]

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