The Apple Watch was launched only recently and already some users—particularly those with tattoos—are seeing "flaws" in the wearable. Users with dark wrist tattoos are posting videos where the new Apple Watch works differently when sensing tattooed and non-tattooed wrists.
"TattooGate," as the phenomenon is being called, has caused disappointed users to turn to social media and other online forums. A number of reports from Twitter and Reddit claim that wrist or arm sleeve tattoos don't work nicely with the Apple Watch sensor called "plethysmograph."
While it is true that Apple's support page made no mention of a possible tattoo issue with the Apple Watch sensor, they have, in fact, explained the wearable's sensing technology, which provided some clues for tattooed users.
"The heart rate sensor in Apple Watch uses what is known as photoplethysmography. This technology, while difficult to pronounce, is based on a very simple fact: Blood is red because it reflects red light and absorbs green light. Apple Watch uses green LED lights paired with light sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood flowing through your wrist at any given moment."
In a thread at Reddit, it was learned that a number of tattooed users sporting the Apple Watch are having trouble with the device. It turns out that the wearable's wrist detection feature gets affected by tattoos when it sends out readings. People who have tattoos don't receive any notifications. This problem temporarily disappears when the user moves the Watch to a non-tattooed area or when he turns off the wrist detection feature. However, the issue may be a bit harder or even impossible to solve for those with full sleeve tattoos.
One user writes about his new Apple Watch and how he initially thought it was a problem on the wearable's wrist detector sensor.
"I thought my shiny new 42mm Watch had a bad wrist detector sensor. The Watch would lock up every time the screen went dark and prompted me for my password. I wouldn't receive notifications. I was about to give up and call Apple...when 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."
While this issue can be solved by turning off the wearable's wrist detection feature, doing so would also disable Apple Pay. Perhaps the better option is to wear it on a non-tattooed wrist.