The Stack Archive

Tattoos found to interfere with Apple Watch sensors

Thu 30 Apr 2015


A number of early Apple Watch adopters have complained that their tattoos cause an interference with many of the new product’s key features.

According to multiple tattooed sources, inked wrists and hands can disrupt communication with the wearable’s sensors installed in the underside of the device leading to malfunction.

Owners of Apple Watch have taken to social media to voice their frustration using the hashtag #tattoogate and sharing their disappointment over the newly discovered Apple flaw.

One user reported that the Watch’s lock system did not disable as it should wapplewatch-sensors(1)[1]hen the device was placed on a decorated area of skin – forcing those affected to constantly enter their security pins.

“The watch would lock up every time the screen went dark and prompted me for my password. I wouldn’t receive notifications. I couldn’t figure out why especially since the watch was definitely not losing contact with my skin.

“I decided to try holding it against my hand – my left arm is sleeved and where I wear my watch is tattooed as well – and it worked.

“My hand isn’t tattooed and the Watch stayed unlocked. Once I put it back on the area that is tattooed with black ink, the watch would automatically lock again,” he commented on the social media platform Reddit.

A further source suggested that notification alerts would fail to ‘ping’ as they are supposed to, and that heart rate monitoring differed significantly between tattooed and non-tattooed wrist readings.

An Apple Watch support page does refer to potential disruption to heart rate monitoring caused by inked skin, however it fails to mention further interference with other key functions. “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,” it reads.

Darker tattoos reportedly cause more issues for Apple Watch than lighter inks.

The unlock wrist detection function can be turned off, however this also disables Apple Pay.


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