Why is nickel in your wristband?

The Fitbit Force

Given today’s controversy about nickel in the very popular Fitbit Force fitness tracker, we thought we’d do some research on the prevalence of the metal in wearable devices. Of course, we wanted to share what we found!

Nickel is the most common contact allergen, according to one dermatologist we spoke with. But then why does it turn up in everyday items, like our mobile phones and food prep equipment? Nickel is often selected because – compared with other materials – they offer better corrosion resistance, better toughness, better strength at high and low temperatures, and a range of special magnetic and electronic properties.

All of the fitness trackers we researched had some amount of nickel. According to a HowStuffWorks article, if you’re allergic to nickel and you’re sweating, you can start feeling an itchy allergic reaction within 15 minutes of touching a nickel-containing product. However, if you’re not sweating, you may not react for a few hours. After a day or two, you’ll probably notice a rash.We think this needs to change.

Clearly, more consumer choices are needed in the wearable devices product lineup, including ones that are not nickel-plated. Nevertheless, we’d hate to see fitness trackers lose their popularity because we think they do a good job promoting physical activity. In fact, most of our team owns one!

To learn more about wearable devices, here’s our favorite TED talk on the topic, circa 2009:

Written by Clifton Dawson

Clifton is a member of the Fitzeal team. He’s a former pro athlete-turned entrepreneur. Clifton is a frequent contributor to the Fitzeal blog. Follow him on Fitzeal to get more of his articles.

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