When shopping for a fitness tracker, smartwatch, or heart rate monitor, the quality of being water-resistant is frequently one of the most important considerations. Nevertheless, it is a deception if somebody promises you that the device that you are wearing on your wrist is completely waterproof. Because once the water pressure reaches a certain point, every item that may be worn will start to leak. As a result of this, the legislation restricts the branding of wearables as being waterproof. There is no such thing in the world.
There is still a certain amount of misunderstanding concerning the numerous levels of water resistance. Is it safe to use your fitness equipment when you are in the shower or when it is raining? Will the item continue to work even if you take it into the shower or the bathtub with you?
In this piece, we will make an effort to shed some light on the subject.
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The first thing you should do to figure out what’s wrong with your equipment is to look at its ISO rating.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has established a standard that specifies test procedures and labelling requirements for smartwatches and activity gadgets that are marketed as “water-resistant.” Because there is an international standard, it is up to the maker of the equipment to show that it can handle water based on best practices in the industry and international knowledge.
On the reverse side of wrist watches and fitness gadgets, you may frequently find the ISO certification, which indicates how well the device is sealed against the intrusion of water. It is typically accompanied by an indicator of the static test pressure that a batch of newly produced devices was subjected to in a leakage test. This was done in order to determine whether or not the wearables passed the test. The test pressure can be reported either directly in bars or, more often, as an equivalent water depth expressed in meters. Both of these methods are acceptable (in the Americas, sometimes also in feet).
Even if the test pressure is expressed in terms of the water depth, this does not always suggest that the gadget was intended for usage in waters of that depth or deeper. For instance, one cannot reasonably anticipate that a fitness device rated for use at a depth of 30 meters will continue to operate indefinitely when submerged at that depth. This is due to the fact that the test is only performed once, utilizing static pressure on a wearable that has just been created. When being worn, a fitness tracker or smartwatch is subjected to varying pressures, which can add to the water’s static pressure. This pressure can cause the device to break. This can be seen, for instance, in the motion of a swimmer’s arm as it moves through the water or in the forceful sprays that can be seen when water skiing.
This indicates that testing must incorporate safety margins to take into account issues such as the natural aging process of the seals, abrupt changes in water pressure and temperature, and dynamic mechanical loads. In addition, the tests for resistance are carried out in clean water. So, unless the device’s maker says otherwise, you can’t be sure that it will still work while it’s in salt water unless the maker says so.
It is essential to keep in mind that there is no standardized procedure for testing. That being said, the suggested application in the current world might seem a little bit different in some instances. The bare minimum, on the other hand, could be characterized as follows, as a general rule:
ATM or 1 BAR (10m or 33 ft)
Improved resistance to rain and splashes. No showering or swimming.
3 ATM or 3 BAR (30 m or 100 ft)
Everyday use, it can withstand a gentle splash such as rain but is not suitable for swimming.
5 ATM or 5 BAR (50 m or 165 ft)
Everyday use and swimming, splash in the pool but not suitable for poolside diving or water sports.
10 ATM or 10 BAR (100 m or 330 ft)
Everyday use, poolside diving and snorkelling. Not suitable for high board diving, high impact or water sports.
15 ATM or 15 BAR (150 m or 500 ft)
Everyday use, poolside diving and snorkelling, most water sports.
20 ATM or 20 BAR (200 m or 660 ft)
Minimum required for high board diving, high impact water sports or sub aqua diving.
100 ATM or 100 BAR (1000 m or 3300 ft)
Minimum required for professional deep sea diving.
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In addition, an IP rating is sometimes provided by fitness gadgets.
The IP Code, also known as the International Protection Rating and occasionally also referred to as the Ingress Protection Rating, is comprised of the letters IP accompanied by two digits and an entirely voluntary letter. According to the international standard IEC 60529, the term “IP” classifies the degrees of security afforded against the invasion of solid objects (which include parts of the body like fingers and hands), dust, unintended contact, and water in electrical enclosures. IP also classifies the degrees of protection provided against the ingress of water.
First digit: Solids
The first number shows how secure the enclosure is against access to dangerous parts (like electrical wires and moving parts) and the introduction of solid foreign objects.
0 Not protected
No protection against contact and ingress of objects
Level 1: >50mm
Any large surface of the body, such as the back of the hand, but no protection against deliberate contact with a body part.
Level 2: >12.5mm
Fingers or similar objects.
Level 3: >2.5mm
Tools, thick wires, etc.
Level 4: >1mm
Most wires, screws, etc.
Level 5: Dust Protected
Ingress of dust is not entirely prevented, but it must not enter in sufficient quantity to interfere with the satisfactory operation of the equipment; complete protection against contact.
Level 6 Dust Tight
No ingress of dust; complete protection against contact.
Second Digit: Liquids
Protecting the equipment inside the enclosure from the possible damage that water seepage could cause.
Level 0: Not protected
Level 1: Dripping water
Dripping water (vertically falling drops) shall have no harmful effect.
Level 2: Dripping water when tilted up to 15°
Vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle up to 15° from its normal position.
Level 3: Spraying water
Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect.
Level 4: Splashing water
Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect.
Level 5: Water jets
Water projected by a nozzle (6.3mm) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
Level 6: Powerful water jets
Water projected in powerful jets (12.5mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
Level 7: Immersion up to 1m
Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion).
Level 8: Immersion beyond 1m
The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer. Normally, this will mean that the equipment is hermetically sealed. However, with certain types of equipment, it can mean that water can enter but only in such a manner that it produces no harmful effects.
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Keep in mind that there are no wearables that are waterproof. Before using a wearable device in the shower or pool, always double-check the instructions provided by the manufacturer on the device itself or on the manufacturer’s website.