Fitbit lawsuit alleges heart rate monitors are inaccurate, misleading

MrGuvernment

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Seems some issues coming up with people finding out the FitBit is not so accurate.

I was about to buy a Charge HR but from reading this, I am hesitant now..

Some people have compared it with manual measurements and say it is way off..

Fitbit's response

The company is also stressing that Fitbit trackers are designed to provide meaningful data to help users reach health and fitness goals, and they are not intended to be scientific or medical devices.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/...devices-dangerously-underestimate-heart-rate/
In the lawsuit, plaintiff Teresa Black, of Colorado, claimed that her Charge HR device was off by 78 beats per minute (bpm) during one workout. Her personal trainer recorded her heart rate at 160 bpm, while her Fitbit read 82 bpm. “Plaintiff Black was approaching the maximum recommended heart rate for her age, and if she had continued to rely on her inaccurate PurePulse Tracker, she may well have exceeded it, thereby jeopardizing her health and safety,” the lawsuit stated.

Another plaintiff, David Urban, of Wisconsin, reported similar problems with his Surge device. Compared to readings from a chest strap-based triathlon monitor, Urban claimed that the Surge consistently under-reported his heart rate by 15-25 bpm as he was exercising and never displayed a reading above 125 bpm. Due to a family history of heart disease, Urban reported buying the device to ensure his heart rate didn’t exceed 160 bpm, as recommended by his doctor.

What good is meaningful data if it is not accurate data?

So then what is the point of your device then? I know they say you must wear it a certain way and of course user error could play into this, but I do not like FitBit's stance on the device and how they try to market it, they conflict with them selves.


http://mashable.com/2016/01/08/fitbit-lawsuit-inaccurate-heart-rate-monitors/#EVUacu_MpEqG

The plaintiffs, Kate McLellan, Teresa Black and David Urban, each argue that the readings on their Fitbit devices were off. Black alleges in the lawsuit that in one instance, her personal trainer manually recorded her heart rate at 160bpm, while her Charge HR device had her heart rate at only 82bpm.

Fitbit lawsuit alleges heart rate monitors are inaccurate, misleading
http://www.today.com/health/fitbit-...ate-monitors-are-inaccurate-misleading-t65956


I love this part, in order to use your device you must register it with their site, and with in the agreement:

That registration includes an agreement that McLellan's lawyers say prevents customers from taking certain legal action against the company.

"They are told they are bound by the arbitration clause and class-action ban," lawyer Jonathan Selbin said. "Well, that's unfair."
 
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Trimlock

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Well, no matter what you agree to in that statement doesn't prevent you from taking legal actions.

As for the lawsuits, these are not very legitimate lawsuits against them either. They never made claims to being accurate, Fitbit has always been a "general" amount of information to give you an idea of where you are at. You aren't going to get accurate results from these small, cheap devices, if you want something accurate you have to pay for it and they also come with guarantees.

I've never been a fan of Fitbit. They give you information that isn't really useful and some people take that information and think they did something. Its cute it counts your steps for you but that doesn't give anything meaningful.

Good article on HR monitors.
 

HeavensCloud

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No shit. This is common knowledge. When you are working out and start getting sweaty these things track like crap. I hope they do get sued.
 

mi7chy

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Really, this is a surprise? What's next? Suing because pedometers are inaccurate?
 
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MrCrispy

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They should get sued, because they keep advertising 'newer and better' HR tracking tech and they are the #1 wearable company. Companies like Jawbone specifically said they wouldn't be able to measure HR during workouts in UP3 etc because they knew it wasn't accurate, but Fitbit specifically promotes that feature.
 

harmattan

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No shit. This is common knowledge. When you are working out and start getting sweaty these things track like crap. I hope they do get sued.

Not only that, but there are multiple warnings emblazoned in the software (and sometimes on the hardware) on every heartrate monitor I've used that "results may be inaccurate"...

My old Gear 2 used to consistantly track my resting BPM at 22, which is nearly dead (it's actually somewhere in the high 40s/low 50s).
 

Aurelius

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There's reasonable wiggle room, and then there's... this. Even with a disclaimer, that's too far off.

Simply speaking, mobile heart rate sensor tech needs to improve. It doesn't need to be perfectly accurate, but it should always be trustworthy.
 

Trimlock

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There's reasonable wiggle room, and then there's... this. Even with a disclaimer, that's too far off.

Simply speaking, mobile heart rate sensor tech needs to improve. It doesn't need to be perfectly accurate, but it should always be trustworthy.

If it's important enough for you to know this information accurately then you should always go for specific device to achieve your goals.

Hell if this lawsuit prevents all these crappy "health" bands from being sold I'd be happy.
 

Spidey329

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I have no experience with Fitbit's Optical HR. But I do have experience with Garmin's, Scosche's, and Microsoft's (Band2). Generally, the optical HR is to be considered ballpark and shouldn't be taken as highly accurate.

I'd hate to say it, but to take one from Apple's book, they aren't wearing it properly. That's my guess. I've seen this exact misread (HR at 160bpm, reading at 80-90bpm with numerous devices).

When I've tested these, I've used a chest strap and an exterior machine to monitor and compare.

Garmin VSHR: Accurate to about +/- 4bpm, until it randomly loses the picture and goes to 90bpm. This is an in-house sensor by Garmin (Elevate module), so it's possible they work that out in firmware. I've seen the issue pop up in most major reviews.

Band2: Peak isn't as accurate, but the average seems to always be +/- 2bpm. I used to get weird readings, until I started wearing it higher & tighter on the inside of my arm.

Scosche: Considered the gold standard, probably because it uses 3Leds and has a high refresh rate (only 8hr battery life for a standalone). Accurate to about +/- 2bpm.

Now here's the kicker. ALL are affected by placement and tightness. If they're loose, they aren't accurate. If they're not placed in the right area, they aren't accurate. I find my forearm presents the best accuracy.

I think the issue with any band based tracker that isn't a standalone device (like the Scosche) is the refresh rate. Because they don't want to nuke the battery life of the band, they do less sampling. In turn, this causes them to have to do more smoothing. All of that has an effect on the reading.

That's why these HR sensors are meant for daily life readings (helps with the calorie count and sleep tracking metrics) versus workout. If you want an accurate reading, get a high-end application specific device.
 
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CHANG3D

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A chest strap is the most accurate way to measure heart rate. So maybe Under Armour and HTC's UA Band and HealthBox has got it right.
 

Climber

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If you want an accurate measurement learn to take your own readings
 

RagingSamster

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I've used Garmin and TomTom devices, both are reasonably accurate and both can space out on occasion. It's approximate, and some times it's way off. Short of buying a battery powered EKG, just deal with it. If you exercise with a device long enough, you don't need it to tell you where your heaert rate is - you know by how you feel. Over a run or bike ride I find my devices accurate enough and I can tell from the data if they go bonkers.
 

vmirjamali

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It's very true it doesn't work when I'm exercising. Did they ever fix this issue?
 

Lunas

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When using the type of sensor they use of course it is inaccurate. The sensor is not tight enough to the skin and not motionless nor does it have enough power.
 

project86

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I don't know if it's something that CAN be fixed. The best approach is probably for them to be more honest about what the expectations should be.
 

Marees

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When using the type of sensor they use of course it is inaccurate. The sensor is not tight enough to the skin and not motionless nor does it have enough power.

Are the fitbit devices still inaccurate or has the situation improved?

cc erek Schro

https://www.thurrott.com/wearables/...6-c5P7SEh0Ku7rJGPKX1D-37C5XlhunxbtavwAtAziBsw

Fitbit’s devices can detect almost “50 percent of COVID-19 cases one day before participants reported the onset of symptoms with 70 percent specificity.”

As per fitbit:
“Our study also reinforces that breathing rate, resting heart rate and heart rate variability (HRV) are all useful metrics for indicating onset of illness and are best tracked at night, when the body is at rest.

Our research shows that:
  1. HRV, which is the beat-to-beat variation of the heart, often decreases in people who are exhibiting symptoms of illness,
  2. while resting heart rate and breathing rate are often elevated.
In some cases, those metrics begin to signal changes nearly a week before participants reported symptoms.”
 

auntjemima

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I don't have a pile of statistically significant data to draw from, but I've had a Fitbit ionic for about 2.5 years now and I've found it to be generally accurate on heart rate data...

I ran a Fitbit Surge and always thought it might be inaccurate. Then I bought an $850 Garmin Fenix 5x and the numbers are similar. So, either both watches are out to lunch, or people do not have their bands tight enough during workout.

My Fitbit always suggested I push the watch up my forearm until it was tight to my skin during a workout. I get the feeling a lot of these people are just letting it dangle around and hoping for the best.
 

Lunas

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Are the fitbit devices still inaccurate or has the situation improved?

cc erek Schro

https://www.thurrott.com/wearables/...6-c5P7SEh0Ku7rJGPKX1D-37C5XlhunxbtavwAtAziBsw

Fitbit’s devices can detect almost “50 percent of COVID-19 cases one day before participants reported the onset of symptoms with 70 percent specificity.”

As per fitbit:
the technology has not changed there is still a margin of error. the sensor uses photoplethysmography to do all of the tests it can do it requires the sensor remain on exactly the same place it moving around or getting anything between it or water from sweat so many things can change the readings. as for how they can detect covid the fitbit takes temperature and heart rate and it could take o2 readings not hard to test enough things to tell with 70 percent accuracy

The change in volume caused by the pressure pulse is detected by illuminating the skin with the light from a light-emitting diode (LED) and then measuring the amount of light either transmitted or reflected to a photodiode. Each cardiac cycle appears as a peak, as seen in the figure. Because blood flow to the skin can be modulated by multiple other physiological systems, the PPG can also be used to monitor breathing, hypovolemia, and other circulatory conditions.Additionally, the shape of the PPG waveform differs from subject to subject, and varies with the location and manner in which the pulse oximeter is attached.
 

T4rd

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I don't have a pile of statistically significant data to draw from, but I've had a Fitbit ionic for about 2.5 years now and I've found it to be generally accurate on heart rate data...

Same on my Versa wherever I've compared it to other HR monitors on exercise equipment and phones like the older Samsung phones when they had that sensor. I've always been of the mind that it doesn't have to be entirely accurate though as long as it's consistent so you can still use it to see trends relative to its previous reading history.

Pretty sure I'm gonna get the Versa 3 or Sense when they launch in a month or so now.
 

CHANG3D

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Pretty sure I'm gonna get the Versa 3 or Sense when they launch in a month or so now.
That six day battery life sure makes the Apple Watch look stupid. If only the Fitbit could respond to messages via Signal or something on the iPhone, it would beat Apple Watch in just about every way.
 

T4rd

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That six day battery life sure makes the Apple Watch look stupid. If only the Fitbit could respond to messages via Signal or something on the iPhone, it would beat Apple Watch in just about every way.

Yeah, the 4-day battery life on my Versa was something I appreciated for the first year or so I had it. But since then it as degraded down to 2 days and of course you can't replace the battery on these without probably losing water resistance or spending way more than it's worth (found them for like $45 or so online).

I commute to and from work on my bike 6.2 miles/25 mins each way every work day and also do gym training for 1-2 hours 3-5 times a week, so I use the shit out of my Versa. I also like the sleep tracking stats as well to reinforce better sleeping habits, as I tend to want to stay up way later than I should sometimes and see the metrics on how that affects my sleep quality and performance the following day. So this watch is more of a health tracker to me than a smart watch and I prefer it that way, but any additional messaging features and stuff are definitely welcome too. The current list of (customizable at least) canned replies on current Fitbits is occasionally handy for a quick response while working out or riding too, even if it is pretty limited.
 
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auntjemima

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That six day battery life sure makes the Apple Watch look stupid. If only the Fitbit could respond to messages via Signal or something on the iPhone, it would beat Apple Watch in just about every way.

I always thought my Fitbit surge had good battery life until I got my Garmin.... Which lasts 20 days lol

Edit: that's just standard usage. Last year I did a 50km Ironman, which used GPS for the entire 9 hours. I took it off the charger 3 hours before the event and checked the battery life before bed, around 8 hours after the event, and the battery was still 54%.
 

kirbyrj

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I always thought my Fitbit surge had good battery life until I got my Garmin.... Which lasts 20 days lol

Edit: that's just standard usage. Last year I did a 50km Ironman, which used GPS for the entire 9 hours. I took it off the charger 3 hours before the event and checked the battery life before bed, around 8 hours after the event, and the battery was still 54%.

I have a Fenix 3 and use it as a multi-sport watch mostly for hiking and golf. Works great, and the battery is still pretty good after 2 years of service.

I liked my Fitbit when I had it, but then I needed a second "watch" for golf GPS. The Garmin does it all, albeit in a larger, heavier package.
 

T4rd

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I always thought my Fitbit surge had good battery life until I got my Garmin.... Which lasts 20 days lol

Edit: that's just standard usage. Last year I did a 50km Ironman, which used GPS for the entire 9 hours. I took it off the charger 3 hours before the event and checked the battery life before bed, around 8 hours after the event, and the battery was still 54%.

Does the Garmin also monitor heart rate at all times like the Fitbit? That's one of the main advantages of the Fitbits and I like that as well so it can better track calories burned throughout the day, which I can then base my diet off of depending on if I want to be at a calorie deficit or surplus and by how much.
 

kirbyrj

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Does the Garmin also monitor heart rate at all times like the Fitbit? That's one of the main advantages of the Fitbits and I like that as well so it can better track calories burned throughout the day, which I can then base my diet off of depending on if I want to be at a calorie deficit or surplus and by how much.

My Fenix 3 does that as well as the sleep tracking. Truth be told I like the Fitbit app better but Garmin can interface with Fitbit using MyFitnessPal.
 

/dev/null

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Does the Garmin also monitor heart rate at all times like the Fitbit? That's one of the main advantages of the Fitbits and I like that as well so it can better track calories burned throughout the day, which I can then base my diet off of depending on if I want to be at a calorie deficit or surplus and by how much.
My vivoactive HR does.
 

/dev/null

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I always thought my Fitbit surge had good battery life until I got my Garmin.... Which lasts 20 days lol

Edit: that's just standard usage. Last year I did a 50km Ironman, which used GPS for the entire 9 hours. I took it off the charger 3 hours before the event and checked the battery life before bed, around 8 hours after the event, and the battery was still 54%.
Which Garmin do you have?
 

Marees

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Are the fitbit devices still inaccurate or has the situation improved?

cc erek Schro

https://www.thurrott.com/wearables/...6-c5P7SEh0Ku7rJGPKX1D-37C5XlhunxbtavwAtAziBsw

Fitbit’s devices can detect almost “50 percent of COVID-19 cases one day before participants reported the onset of symptoms with 70 percent specificity.”

As per fitbit:

I am thinking of buying a device to monitor these metrics (& also start going to a gym). My hands/wrists are very thin, and I wonder if the readings will be correct

Is fitbit the best or other brands better for these metrics?

Are there multiple models in the same brand which have different reliability levels?
 

Aurelius

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I am thinking of buying a device to monitor these metrics (& also start going to a gym). My hands/wrists are very thin, and I wonder if the readings will be correct

Is fitbit the best or other brands better for these metrics?

Are there multiple models in the same brand which have different reliability levels?

To start: please think very, very carefully about going to a gym if you're going to do it before you're vaccinated or the pandemic is over. Gyms by their nature are prime breeding grounds for viruses (indoors, lots of heavy breathing, numerous people touching the same equipment)... and yes, there have been COVID-19 infections. Personally, I'm looking at getting more equipment for home and simply accepting that I won't set foot in a gym again until sometime in 2021.

As for the actual devices... what phone do you use? I'd lean Apple Watch, because it's both reasonably accurate and has a wide ecosystem of fitness apps if the built-in features aren't enough. If you're using Android, though, it's a bit tricky. I like Samsung's interface, but I've heard the fitness tracking isn't as accurate as it should be.
 

CHANG3D

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To start: please think very, very carefully about going to a gym if you're going to do it before you're vaccinated or the pandemic is over. Gyms by their nature are prime breeding grounds for viruses (indoors, lots of heavy breathing, numerous people touching the same equipment)... and yes, there have been COVID-19 infections. Personally, I'm looking at getting more equipment for home and simply accepting that I won't set foot in a gym again until sometime in 2021.

As for the actual devices... what phone do you use? I'd lean Apple Watch, because it's both reasonably accurate and has a wide ecosystem of fitness apps if the built-in features aren't enough. If you're using Android, though, it's a bit tricky. I like Samsung's interface, but I've heard the fitness tracking isn't as accurate as it should be.
Apple Watch lasting less than a day makes it a weird device to use for sleep tracking. The way that OLED display turns off and only turns back on after vigorous shaking or movement is annoying. I wouldn’t recommend a Apple Watch unless you must have Apple Pay or iMessage on the watch.
 

Marees

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To start: please think very, very carefully about going to a gym if you're going to do it before you're vaccinated or the pandemic is over. Gyms by their nature are prime breeding grounds for viruses (indoors, lots of heavy breathing, numerous people touching the same equipment)... and yes, there have been COVID-19 infections. Personally, I'm looking at getting more equipment for home and simply accepting that I won't set foot in a gym again until sometime in 2021.

As for the actual devices... what phone do you use? I'd lean Apple Watch, because it's both reasonably accurate and has a wide ecosystem of fitness apps if the built-in features aren't enough. If you're using Android, though, it's a bit tricky. I like Samsung's interface, but I've heard the fitness tracking isn't as accurate as it should be.

I have Android Lenovo P2. Not into apple's ecosystem

I am still in 2 minds on gym.

I have been wanting to go to gym for a long time. Finally managed to get registered (annual membership) in nearby gym in March right before lockdown
They were forced to close due to lockdown from April & re-opened just this month August.

But you are right need to check the situation. Will take a call later. Have not yet set foot in the gym after subscription !!
 

auntjemima

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Wow that is a nice watch....I suppose it's probably almost time to upgrade from my vivoactive HR...

I needed something that could last 24+ hours GPS. This thing doesn't have a touch screen or anything, but it's feature rich.
 

T4rd

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I needed something that could last 24+ hours GPS. This thing doesn't have a touch screen or anything, but it's feature rich.

How long have you had that watch and has the battery life not degraded at all since you've had it consider it's been out for over 3 years now? Also, according to its specs page, it's only rated for up to 12 days in "smartwatch mode", and 20 hours in "GPS/HR" mode. So that insinuates that it doesn't actually monitor HR at all times outside of doing activities with it; is that the case? If so, then that seems much worse than the Fitbit watches for battery life that do track HR constantly at all times. Also, can you customize or download different watch faces or store media on it to play back without your phone like the Fitbits can?

I've heard a lot of good stuff from Garmin owners as well and since the new Fitbits are coming out, I'm considering switching over since I've gotten more into fitness the past couple years. Though the Garmins seems to be most useful for those that run, bike, and hike a lot, whereas I'm trying to limit my cardio now in order to build muscle mass/strength and other than the occasional hike and walk with my wife, I limit my cardio to commuting to work on my bike now and the assisted-GPS that uses my phone's GPS has been fine so far for those activities. I guess I'll see how the new Fitbit watches compare to whatever comparable Garmin watch when they come out and see then, but I do definitely like the new temperature tracking and EKG functionality on the new Sense watch as well.
 

auntjemima

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How long have you had that watch and has the battery life not degraded at all since you've had it consider it's been out for over 3 years now? Also, according to its specs page, it's only rated for up to 12 days in "smartwatch mode", and 20 hours in "GPS/HR" mode. So that insinuates that it doesn't actually monitor HR at all times outside of doing activities with it; is that the case? If so, then that seems much worse than the Fitbit watches for battery life that do track HR constantly at all times. Also, can you customize or download different watch faces or store media on it to play back without your phone like the Fitbits can?

I've heard a lot of good stuff from Garmin owners as well and since the new Fitbits are coming out, I'm considering switching over since I've gotten more into fitness the past couple years. Though the Garmins seems to be most useful for those that run, bike, and hike a lot, whereas I'm trying to limit my cardio now in order to build muscle mass/strength and other than the occasional hike and walk with my wife, I limit my cardio to commuting to work on my bike now and the assisted-GPS that uses my phone's GPS has been fine so far for those activities. I guess I'll see how the new Fitbit watches compare to whatever comparable Garmin watch when they come out and see then, but I do definitely like the new temperature tracking and EKG functionality on the new Sense watch as well.

I'm on my phone right now, but I'll touch on a few things. I've had the watch for just over 2 years. I would say I can get a good 18 days on battery now. That's with just using it, not GPS tracking exercises. If I GPS track, I'll still get nearly a day.

I find it uses about 5-6% battery per hour of tracking. So around 20 hours like you mentioned. My Fitbit would make it to 5 hours on the best of days.

As for weight lifting, this watch does have a weight training mode, but I find it clumsy and too interactive. Requires you to update it between sets and stuff. Just seemed annoying.

The watch does track HR all the time. It's really all I use it for outside the exercise aspect. The GPS accuracy also puts my Fitbit Surge to shame.

Edit: I would need to look up what "smartwatch mode" is, but I can assure you that I charge less than twice monthly and it's always tracking elevation, steps, and HR. I know this because if I end up doing something physically straining and forget to turn on an activity, it will track that I've had "active minutes", although it won't actually attribute that to a "workout" in the app like my Fitbit would.
 
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