Recent Study Reveals Fitbit PurePulse Trackers Mis-Record Heart Rates

June 27, 2016

Fitbit at Mobile World Congress 2015 BarcelonaFitspiration is everywhere these days. Motivational quotes and gym selfies have taken over social media and heartwarming before and after stories are continually documented on reality television shows, encouraging others to adopt a healthier lifestyle or, at the very least, get off the couch. Amidst the “fitspo” are prominently placed ads featuring the latest and greatest fitness trackers to help drive that point home. Arguably, the most popular fitness tracker on the market today is Fitbit, with a variety of products designed to measure everything from the number of steps taken in a day to nighttime sleep patterns.

When Fitbit unveiled their PurePulse Trackers, a revolutionary line of wristbands that measure heart rates – as opposed to the typical chest strap which can sometimes be uncomfortable – they began running ads touting the trackers’ precision and ability to count every heartbeat. Not long after the Charge HR and Surge fitness trackers hit the market, consumers began complaining that they rarely, if ever, provided accurate results.

In a class action complaint filed by Kate McLellan, Teresa Black and David Urban in January, the plaintiffs alleged they “and many consumers like them have experienced—and testing confirms—that the PurePulse Trackers consistently mis-record heart rates by a very significant margin, particularly during exercise.” Accompanying the class action complaint is a recent study conducted by California State Polytechnic University researchers, which followed 43 healthy adults fitted with the PurePulse trackers as they completed activities promoted in Fitbit’s advertisements including jogging, jumping rope and stair climbing.

The results revealed that the higher the activity level, the less accurate the Charge HR and Surge Trackers became, verifying the plaintiffs’ claims of the PurePulse Trackers’ inability to correctly measure heart rates, especially during high intensity workouts. Since Fitbit’s Charge HR and Surge fitness watches were specifically advertised for their ability to do so, the fact that they  were off by as much as 20 bpm in the study means Fitbit could be liable for false advertising.

So, what do these recent revelations mean for the future of fitness trackers? Only time will tell. Luckily, time happens to be one feature the Fitbit Charge HR and Surge Trackers do, in fact, accurately measure.

Photo Credit: Kārlis Dambrāns

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