At last year’s CES, Belty was one of the surprise hits. In case you don’t remember, simply put on the “smart belt” and tap the buckle when it is comfortably fitted. Belty will then track your movement throughout the day, vibrate when it is time to move, and (best of all) automatically adjust its tightness to maintain a constant fit as you sit, walk, and eat (too much). The model on display last year was an early prototype and while the company behind the high-tech fashion accessory, Emiota, had hoped to ship it by the Holidays, they instead opted to completely redesign Belty. The new version looks much less techie and more like a traditional belt. Belty is now constructed from premium French leather and significant weight has been shed from the buckle by utilizing more plastic parts. Finally, Belty’s vibration system has been completely overhauled. Besides alerting you when it is time to move around, the belt also can alert you to drink water, to de-stress with a breathing exercise, assist you in taking a 5 minute power nap, or even help you settle into efficient, rhythmic walking pace. Belty is currently available for preorder but won’t ship until December 15th. You can purchase the buckle and one strap (in either brown or black) for $395 or both straps for $495.
Belty represents what fashion tech and wearable devices should be: an improved version of something you would be wearing anyways (see also the OMbra). By integrating meaningful technology seamlessly into a belt, there are few drawbacks to discourage adaptation. There is one big drawback with Belty though – price. While $395 is on the lower end of a “high fashion” belt, very few people likely have spent even close to that amount. Other than looks and materials, 10¢ twine keeps your pants up as well as $1,500 alligator skin. What Belty is counting on though is the additional functionality creating the worth. While I think they are on the right path, I am afraid they are still about $150 to $200 away from where they need to be.