Fitbit dismisses allegations of wildly inaccurate heartrate sensor data

Wearables were built to gather tons of data, whether we’re talking about full-featured smartwatches or laser-focused fitness trackers. As we turn to apps to crunch those numbers into a more digestible format, giving us detailed information about everything from our sleeping patterns to our aerobic activity, should we be worried about just how accurate all this data is? A new class-action lawsuit throws some serious allegations at Fitbit, accusing the wearable manufacturer of selling trackers that fail to accurately measure their users’ heartbeat.

The suit claims that Fitbit heartrate-monitoring products like the Charge HR and Surge may dramatically under-report heart rate figures, sometimes taking readings that are up to 50 percent below where they should be. The effect is reportedly most pronounced at elevated heart rates, possibly creating a dangerous condition – if users are relying on this data to make sure they don’t push themselves too hard during workouts, the logic goes, this Fitbit data may result in them overexerting themselves.

Fitbit stands by the accuracy of its products, calling the complaints in this suit without merit. That said, the manufacturer also notes that its trackers aren’t intended to be used as medical devices, and are meant more to provide fitness guidelines than offer critical data.

Should we expect some margin of error in consumer fitness products, as opposed to certified medical devices? Is Fitbit’s hardware really as unreliable as this suit claims? We’d love to hear your opinions in the comments, especially if you’ve had some first-hand experience with wonky-looking fitness tracker data.

Source: Ars Technica

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!