Fitbit named in class action alleging inaccurate heart rate monitoring

Posted on: January 12th, 2016 by Steve Larson

Fitbit is named in a class action lawsuit alleging that its heart rate monitoring technology— which it calls PurePulse—is inaccurate.  Essentially, Fitbit uses LED lights to monitor blood flow through a user’s wrist and, by using algorithms, can determine a user’s heart rate. Similar technology is used in the Apple Watch, along with several more competing smartwatches and fitness trackers.


According to the suit, three different plaintiffs said they bought Fitbit devices based off the company’s advertised promise that it accurately tracked heart rates. Fitbit’s advertising materials often contain phrases such as “every beat counts” and “know your heart” in relation to the heart monitoring technology.

One participant in the suit had a trainer manually count her heart rate during a workout. Her trainer recorded a heart rate of 160 beats per minute (bpm) while her Fitbit Charge HR indicated her heart rate was only 82 beats per minute, according to the filing. Two other plaintiffs are mentioned in the suit, each citing similar experiences with a Fitbit PurePulse-equipped product.

The suit goes on to say that a cardiologist, who used an electrocardiogram machine to compare results, found Fitbit’s heart rate sensor consistently reported inaccurate results. With a heart rate of 110 bpm or higher, the suit states the Fitbit devices often failed to record a heart rate at all. When a heart rate was captured, the reading was off by an average of 24.34 bpm, the suit said.