Tat­toos take a bite out of Ap­ple Watch’s func­tions

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

Some Ap­ple Watch own­ers are run­ning into a bit of in­ter­fer­ence with their new de­vices—wrist tat­toos can af­fect the wear­able com­puter’s heart-rate mon­i­tor.

Inked and irked Ap­ple fans have dubbed the is­sue “Tat­toogate” on Twit­ter, com­plain­ing that they must choose be­tween their body art and their stylish gad­get. Ap­ple, for its part, ac­knowl­edged the is­sue on its sup­port web­site.

“Per­ma­nent or tem­po­rary changes to your skin, such as some tat­toos, can also im­pact heart rate sen­sor per­for­mance,” ac­cord­ing to the site. “The ink, pat­tern and sat­u­ra­tion of some tat­toos can block light from the sen­sor, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to get re­li­able read­ings.”

Sev­eral watch own­ers have com­plained about the prob­lem on so­cial me­dia, even post­ing videos that show the watch work­ing well on an un­dec­o­rated wrist, but re­peat­edly lock­ing or paus­ing when worn on an arm with a tat­too.

The watch tracks heart rates through a com­mon med­i­cal tech­nique that mea­sures how much light is ab­sorbed by blood.

While the prob­lem doesn’t oc­cur with all tat­toos, it may be more likely to af­fect peo­ple with dark red or black ink on the side of the wrist where they wear their de­vice, ac­cord­ing to anec­do­tal ac­counts.

“So far, it’s not been an is­sue,” said Nick Borelli, 34, a mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tive in Cleve­land. He has a black tat­too on the in­side of his wrist—but not the side where he wears his Ap­ple Watch de­vice. He says the glitch could af­fect a large “tar­get de­mo­graphic” of young, tech-savvy peo­ple with tat­toos, who are likely to be in­ter­ested in the Ap­ple Watch as a gad­get and fash­ion ac­ces­sory.

Tat­tooed gad­get geeks could find they have prob­lems

with the Ap­ple Watch wear­able com­puter.

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