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Fitbit’s Heart Rate Sensors Have Earned Them A Class-Action Lawsuit

January 6, 2016 - Written By Cory McNutt

This day was a mixed bag for Fitbit investors and customers – they introduced their new fitness watch at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas but also had a class action lawsuit filed against them.  Fitbit has long been a dominant player in the wearables field, especially when it comes to wristbands for those that exercise as well as consumers that just want to track their activity throughout the day – a modern pedometer, if you will.  With their latest entry, the new Fitbit Blaze, a smart fitness watch that is poised to go up against the likes of the Apple Watch and the Samsung Gear S2, the last thing Fitbit needs is a lawsuit claiming their products give inaccurate readings.

The new Fitbit Blaze is their smartest and certainly their most stylish fitness tracker to date.  It will cost $199.95 and went on presale Monday at Fitbit.com and Tuesday at major US retailers with global retail availability in March.  It was designed to help you get the most out of your workouts and offers smart notifications, although it only received a lukewarm reception upon its unveiling at CES.  Even though it has a watch-like face, Fitbit does not call it a ‘smartwatch,’ possibly because it only supports their proprietary apps and no third party.  The poor reception, coupled with the lawsuit, saw Fitbit’s stock plummet 18-percent to $24.30 – its lowest point since the company went public last summer.

The class action lawsuit against Fitbit started when consumers from California, Colorado and Wisconsin said the ‘Charge HR‘ and ‘Surge’ heart rate monitors do record an accurate heartbeat during intense physical activities and certainly cannot consistently record them.  They are unable to “count every beat” especially during strenuous exercises.  Fitbit expressly markets and advertises their products to do just that.  One of the plaintiff said she bought Fitbits Charge HR to specifically track her heart rate – through her experiences, she found that not to be true yet Fitbit refused her a refund.  Fitbit strongly believes the case has no merit and stated that it “strongly disagrees with the statements made in the complaint and plans to vigorously defend the lawsuit…PurePulse [Fitbit’s proprietary heart rate tech] provides better overall heart rate tracking than cardio machines at the gym, as it tracks your heart rate continuously even while you’re not at the gym or working out. But it’s also 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.” This is not Fitbit’s first class action lawsuit – the spring of 2014 saw the Fitbit Force accused of causing skin rashes.  Fitbit pulled it from the market and replaced it with the Fitbit Charge, which they claimed used different materials and went through rigorous testing.