The photo of the malfunctioning Apple Watch posted by a Redditor. Photo: Reddit / guinne55fan The Apple Watch emits a green light when measuring the wearer’s heart rate.
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Reports are surfacing from some Apple Watch early adopters that the new device is not working properly when worn on wrists with heavily tattooed skin.
One such account emerged on the social news website Reddit where one anonymous user posted two photos and a detailed explanation of their experience with wearing an Apple Watch on their tattooed wrist.
The user said that the watch did not receive notifications for incoming text messages and emails when worn over their tattoo.
“I was about to give up and call Apple tomorrow when I decided to try holding it against my hand (my left arm is sleeved [with a tattoo] and where I wear my watch is tattooed as well) and it worked,” the Redditor wrote.
“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 Apple watch is designed to shut down when left idle for a few seconds and, unless it is worn against the skin, can only be woken up if you type in a pass code.
The Redditor said they had reported the issue to Apple and that, after speaking with a customer representative, “it seems like I’m not the only one”.
Since that post, other tattooed users have emerged on Twitter with similar complaints. Many have been using the hashtag #TattooGate, a reference to earlier Apple-related product malfunctions, notably #AntennaGate with the iPhone 4 and #BendGate with the iPhone 6 Plus.
Apple Watch #tattoogatehttp://t/ExXUrjFvyA— Wylsacom (@wylsacom) April 28, 2015
Not all tattoos causes the watch to malfunction, however. A Redditor with lighter coloured tats has given the watch the all clear while the issues are not being reported by wears with naturally darker skin.
Speculation is that the problem lies with the sensors at the back of the watch that is used to detect skin contact and activate the watch, as well as to measure blood flow so that it can give a reading on the wearer’s pulse.
The sensors are designed to pulse light onto the skin in order for readings to be taken. But in the case of very dark tattoo ink, it would absorb the light much better than any natural skin tones, meaning the watch could be duped into thinking it was not being worn.
That, at least, is the theory.
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