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Fitness tracker users discover that toilet rolls have a heartbeat

I’m not sure why someone would put a fitness tracker on a roll of toilet paper in the first place, but it now has the whole world talking.

In China, an owner of the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 — a fitness tracker designed to display your heart rate — discovered that the band displays a heart rate when attached to a roll of toilet paper.

The first video of this phenomenon (I use that word loosely), was posted to Chinese social network, Weibo, and soon sent users into a minor frenzy.

Before long, videos were appearing of the fitness tracker strapped to everything from bananas to stuffed animals — and showing a heart rate while doing so.

Chinese tech site, Abacus, quickly posted a video testing out the bizarre occurrence. They trialled the phenomenon by using different inanimate objects and a variety of fitness trackers, including the Apple Watch Series 4 and an Android Wear smartwatch.

With the Xiaomi Mi Band 3, a toilet roll showed a heart rate of 81 BPM, a coffee mug 72 BPM, and a banana 77BPM.

I can’t help but wonder why no one posted a video of the monitor attached to Woody or Buzz Lightyear… maybe we will get proof once and for all that our toys really are alive.

But, of course, there’s a reasonable explanation for these strange discoveries. It turns out that the fitness trackers use green light to monitor human pulses. Blood absorbs green light, so the trackers can test how fast your blood is flowing by how much green light is being absorbed or reflected.

Therefore, when the light is reflected back by the shiny surface of a coffee mug, or stark whiteness of toilet paper, the sensors get confused and produce incorrect readings.

Thanks for the explanation, science.

An engineer from the Chinese question-and-answer site Zhihu clarified that people can continue to use their fitness trackers with confidence. They are designed to accurately read human pulses, not banana skins.