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.