Study claims Fitbit heart rate monitor is 'highly inaccurate

A study published last week has added fuel to the fire of allegations that claim Fitbit’s devices report inaccurate heart rate information.

The smartwatch manufacturer and brand leader has been under fire since January 2016, when legal firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein first took them to task.

Researchers at California State Polytechnic University have found that the PurePulse, the registered heart rate monitor present in both Charge HR and Surge models, reports “highly inaccurate” heart rate data “during physical activity”.

Earlier this year, lawyers relied upon a slew of unhappy reviews and customer testimonials for their offence. One consumer, who was training for a marathon, relied upon the device to track performance and progress. Alarm bells rang when the Fitbit was compared to a traditional chest-strap heart rate monitor and showed dramatically different statistics.

The brand claims its smartwatches track users’ heart rates consistently throughout the day, ensuring more accurate data than what you might get on a treadmill in the gym.

A cardiologist at Caltech tested the PurePulse monitors against an electrocardiogram, and found that, on average, the devices were inaccurate by 24 beats per minute.Fitbit Inc. has released a statement saying that it is “important to note that Fitbit trackers are designed to provide meaningful data to our users to help them reach their health and fitness goals, and are not intended to be scientific or medical devices.”

Advertising for the brand features images and videos of athletes using the devices during sporting activities and workouts.

The heart rate function joined the Fitbit’s offering in 2014, joining its step counting, sleep monitoring and distance and calorie calculating capabilities. The additional feature has corresponded with a 50% price increase in some devices. 

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