Apple Confirms: Tattoos May Mess With Apple Watch

Following last week’s launch of the Apple Watch, some tattooed users of the device complained that their new smartwatches weren’t working properly when worn on heavily inked wrists. Apple has now updated its website to explain that there is indeed the chance that a user’s tattoo may interfere with the sensors on the Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch uses multiple sensors the rear face of the device to sense the wearer’s heartbeat. Among other things, this lets the watch know that it’s currently being worn and thus doesn’t constantly go into lockdown mode and require a passcode to be used.

But some users with wrist tattoos said that their Apple Watches were behaving as if they weren’t being worn and were frequently locking up when they shouldn’t have.

In an update to this Apple Support page about the Apple Watch’s heart rate monitor, the company explains:

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.

This confirms earlier speculation about the reason for the trouble.

As Engadget points out, some other wearables on the market have similar problems with tattoos.

Right now, the only suggestion Apple has for dealing with sensor interference is to wear yet another device — a bluetooth heart rate monitor that you put on your chest. This is why we suggest that anyone with wrist tattoos, especially solid or heavily inked pieces, get a hands-on (or rather wrist-on) demo of the device before they buy it.

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