Few weeks ago while Fitbit was promoting its latest fitness tracking watch during the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the health tracker by some users of the Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge. According to them, the devices misread heart rate data especially during intense exercise. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit brought in a board-certified cardiologist to help them check this.
We went and had a board-certified cardiologist put some folks through different levels of exercise and test the different models, and sure enough, particularly at high intensity levels, they are widely inaccurate
This was a a big hit on the company, especially based on the fact that most people are interested in such devices because of the heart rate monitors.
Things are currently taking a different turn, Consumer Report (a notable organization known for unbiased product testing and rating) after retesting the device, stated that the heart rate monitoring feature on the Fitbit wearables are accurate.
Both the Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge passed our tests handily, accurately recording heart rates at everything from a leisurely walk up to a fast run.
Consumer Reports had a male and female volunteer run on a treadmill with a Polar H7 (According to many, one of the most accurate consumer heart rate monitors) strapped to their chest, they also wore the Fitbit Charge HR and Surge, while one was on the wrist, the other was just a few inches higher.
Patrick Austin, a Consumer Reports representative stated; “For our new test, we recorded our subjects heart rates at four levels of intensity: at rest, a walking pace (110 bpm), a jogging pace (130 bpm) and a running pace (150 bpm). All tests were conducted twice. A total of 64 heart rate measurements were recorded.”
According to Consumer Reports, both the Charge HR and Surge as compared to reference Polar H7 ECG monitor were very accurate. During trials, the difference between the chest strap and the Fitbit devices amounted to no more than 3 heartbeats per minute.
However, it was noted, while the female volunteer wore the Charge HR on her wrist and began a more intense portion of the excercise, the Fitbit was off by a greater margin. “During one run, when the chest strap read 150 bpm, the Fitbit Charge HR read 144 bpm,” said Austin. “During the second run, the device read only 139 bpm. The Charge HR was more accurate when it was farther up her forearm, and less accurate the closer it was to her wrist. That happened only during very vigorous exercise.
After all tests, Consumer Reports still recommends both the Fitbit Charge HR and the Fitbit Surge for those looking for a fitness band. But if you are having issues try to move your device up a few inches and see how it goes.
Any Fitbit user out there? let us know your experiences in comments.