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The Apple Watch is having problems recognising users with tattooed wrists

The watch’s sensor is unable to detect a heartbeat if there’s a tattoo covering the skin.
Apr 30th 2015, 4:57 PM 12,196 24

IF YOU’RE PLANNING on getting an Apple Watch and sport a few tattoos on your arms, the device may have some difficulty working as intended.

The watch’s sensor, which is used to measure heart rates and check for skin contact, has difficulty detecting the skin if there is a tattoo covering it, meaning it’s unable to tell whether someone is wearing it or not. When this happens, the watch locks and requires a passcode to use it again.

One user on Reddit detailed his experiences with the watch saying it wouldn’t recognise his wrist when on his tattooed arm, but when placed on his hand, it would work as normal.

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.

The reason this is happening is because the sensor uses green light that’s beamed towards the skin.

According to Quartz, the beam penetrates through the first few layers of skin and measures the rate of blood flow in the capillaries sitting below the surface. The ink used in most tattoos ends up absorbing this green light, preventing it from carrying out its purpose.

Faulty component

The reason for the shortage of Apple Watch devices during pre-orders earlier this month was down to problems with one of its key components.

The ‘taptic engine’, which provides slight vibrations to simulate the feeling of being tapped on the wrist, was mass produced in February but after reliability testing, it found that some of the taptic engines produced started to break down over time, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The development meant that some watches were scrapped although it’s believed that none of the watches with the faulty parts were shipped.

When the watch was made available for pre-orders in nine countries earlier this month, the device sold out within hours. Some delivery estimates went as far back as August for some because of the shortage, although the first set of pre-orders were sent out last weekend.

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Quinton O'Reilly

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