One of the cooler features of Apple Watch is its heart-rate sensor, which is integral to the health and fitness-related attributes of the Cupertino company’s new wearable. Earlier this week, it emerged that arm tattoos were causing erratic / inaccurate readings, since the feature uses light reflected on the skin to generate its data, and Apple has since updated its support documents to confirm the issue.
Where some problems with newly-released devices are resolved with software updates, though, this is one issue that Apple cannot really do anything about. The optical sensors can only gather information on clear skin, and when the surface has been essentially contaminated with different shades of ink, the heart-rate sensor is rendered almost useless.
The new tidbit on the support page reads as follows:
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.
The solution? Well, in not so many words, Apple recommends those with impinging arm tats will just have to deal with it. The document infers that anybody experiencing tattoo-related problems should seek alternative heart-rate monitors featuring Bluetooth connectivity.
Apple’s approach to this is, you have to say, fairly spot-on. When one decides to get a tattoo, they must live with the consequences, and while some mightn’t have foreseen the Apple Watch’s arrival, the heart-rate sensor uses the same technique as the Fitbit and many other pre-existing, comparable products.
Not everybody with a tattoo on their wrist / arm has endured issues with the heart-rate monitor, but it seems like the deeper, darker colors are proving the most problematic. If you do have a tattoo on your arm, and are worried about the feature not working, your best bet is to head down to your local Apple Retail Store for a try-on session, or borrow a friend’s for a short while if possible.
Even if the tattoo does get in the way, a decent heart rate monitor worn around the chest and wirelessly hooked up to your device is going to do the job anyway, so it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker if you’re considering the acquisition of the Apple Watch.