Last week, Fitbit, maker of one of the leading wearable health-tracking devices, the Fitbit Force, said that it withdrawing the wristband due reports of skin irritation by users.
Fitbit said that while just a fraction of Fitbit Force users — about 1.7% — had complained about rashes and other forms of skin irritation, the company had halted sales of the device and would issue a full retail price refund.
A statement from Fitbit CEO and founder James Park indicated that the cause of the skin irritation — thought to be allergic contact dermatitis — remained elusive. Fitbit says that independent tests did not link the issue to the Fitbit Force’s battery or circuitry. Though the Fitbit said that the materials used in the wristband were common in other consumer products, it suggested that “nickel present in the surgical grade stainless steel” used in the Fitbit Force could be causing the reaction.
Fitbit said it was “working on our next-generation tracker.” News about the new tracker would be announced “soon.”
The announcement is a big setback for Fitbit, which had produced one of the most popular wristworn fitness-tracking devices in an increasingly crowded market.
A number of tech giants are reportedly working on wrist-worn computer devices, including Apple (AAPL), which is widely expected to release a health-focused smartwatch — popularly dubbed the iWatch — some time this year.