If you are considering getting an Apple Watch, and you have a tattoo on your wrist, your tattoo may prevent the device’s heart rate sensor from functioning properly, according to a CNN report. One of the functions of the Apple Watch is to use the wearer’s heart rate to determine if the device is being worn. A user’s wrist tattoo may prevent them from placing calls, receiving notifications or using certain apps (Gillette, 2015). Apple’s blog, iMore, has confirmed that this problem exists.
The back of the Apple Watch flashes green and infrared light at the wearer’s skin, and the light is absorbed or reflected by the blood. Ink used for tattooing is opaque and prevents light from penetrating the skin. Solid-colored tattoos, especially red ones, can absorb the green light and reflect the red light. Black tattoos absorb green and red light can also interfere with the Apple Watch’s heart-rate sensor (Gillette, 2015). Dark colored skin, scars and skin abrasions are translucent and do not interfere with the device’s heart-rate sensor.
Turning off the Apple Watch’s wrist detection function may allow you to receive notifications but at the same time prevent the wearer from receiving calls or using the Apple Pay function. Will removing a tattoo by laser resolve this problem? Studies are being done to see how much ink (if any) remains in the skin tissue after tattoo removal and if it will still interfere with the Apple Watch.
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Gillette, B. (2015). Dermatology Times, “Tattoos may stop Apple Watch”. Retrieved May 13, 2015, from: http://dermatologytimes.modernmedicine.com/dermatology-times/news/tattoos-may-stop-apple-watch