CES 2019: 4 Things You Learn by Spending Thanksgiving Week in a Smart Belt
Name any accessory and there’s probably a “smarter” alternative. The Apple Watch is strapped around the wrist of every Silicon Valley health nut, and customizable earbuds are fitted in the ears of cross fitters everywhere. I suppose, then, it was only a matter of time before even the belt I wear to work would some day be able to track my calories and waist-size with the help of an attendant app.
The wave of wearables that has washed over the consumer tech market in recent years means there’s now an option for everyone. While the Apple Watch may have started off as a “status symbol for iOS devotees” it is now a certified hit with consumer demand that was through the roof. The allure of “smarter” wearables is also replacing the the more primitive types of trackers in the market, an analysis released in June shows. A CCS Insight report published in October forecasts the wearables market to only grow: “Worldwide smart wearable device sales will double by 2022, becoming a $27 billion market with 233 million units sold,” according to a Forbes contributor. So, it’s absolutely no surprise that a wellness belt, aka the Welt, will be launched in the United States January at CES 2019.
The Welt stylishly keeps your pants from falling while tracking your waist size, distance walked, time spent sitting, calories burned, and when you’ve eaten too much. It’ll then rank your overall “Health Score” as either best, good, or poor. There was no better time to test this than during Thanksgiving and the week leading up to the holiday. And by the aftermath of my feast, I realized that some of the Welt’s best features are actually what it doesn’t do, as opposed to what it’s advertised to do.
- Product: Welt Smart Belt
- Price: $149
- Perfect for: Stylish dressers that would rather diet than work out.
My black leather Welt was comprised of three parts: the Welt app, the strap, and the micro USB chargeable, silver buckle. I needed to cut the leather strap so it comfortably fit around my waist, the instructions suggested fitting it as if I were trying to put the prong through the third hole.
Once I slipped it on and wore it around the office for a few hours I noticed 1. I found myself forgetting that I was even wearing a smart belt, which might be a good thing.
It’s been widely reported that certain Fitbit users cheat to meet their daily step goal, which obviously defeats the purpose of wearing a fitness tracker in the first place. The fact that I forgot that I had a tracker on, however, prevented me from trying to hijack its accurate accounting of my lifestyle. Faced with the data, I realized I really should use the standing desks at work more often.
Without fail, my mom always buys me a pair of pants for Christmas. This gesture of love begins with a barrage of inquiries about what size waist she should buy, which I don’t know because I don’t own and always forget to borrow a tape measure. This back and forth culminates in my getting pants that don’t fit. This year, that will not be a problem as 2. The Welt constantly monitored my waist size* enabling me to respond to my mom immediately.
The app claims that instead of measuring my pants size, it measures your “actual waist size.” To see how that translates into pant size, I tested this out heading to The Gap to return some pants that were a little too big for me. The Welt had me 31-inches and when I slipped on some 30 waist size pants, they fit like a glove.
Perhaps the biggest innovation in the Welt is that it fixes one of wearable tech’s biggest problems. 3. It has an incredible battery life and it never stops being a belt event after it runs out of battery. Welt’s creators say that it should last 60 days fully charged though it takes only 2 hours to charge completely.
When Apple Watches and Fitbit run out of battery, it’s lights out. They simply aren’t fitness trackers or watches anymore. It’s no small feat that the Welt never uses all of its utility. Even when the battery is dead and your steps are going uncounted, it’ll still keep your pants up.
When I first booted up my Welt it had close to 40 percent battery right out of the box, which lasted me almost a week. But long-lasting battery life aside, it is weird to plug in your belt before you go to bed.
Thanksgiving day arrived and thus far, the Welt has yet to detect that I had overeaten, but today was my day to shine. My editor invited me to his family dinner where I gorged on turkey, stuffing, pie, and a week’s supply of carbs.
Roughly halfway through the meal, I had to go up a belt hole or risk suffering a self-induced asphyxia right at the dinner table. I quickly checked the Welt app and saw that it had detected a “big meal.” I was glad the feature worked, but I was struck with a sudden sense of guilt. Maybe I wouldn’t have that extra slice of apple pie I was planning on getting.
This is when it became clear, 4. The Welt is the wearable for people who want to diet and not work out. You rock it with dress pants, not gym shorts. And just in case the feeling of your pants button about to burst isn’t enough, it’ll let you know when you should probably stop eating pizza at the office party.
The Welt is in some ways a more low-tech alternative to modern-day wearables. There’s no touch screen, heart rate sensor, or fall detection. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel with something flashy, the Welt discreetly and accurately does its job.
It doesn’t overpromise or underdeliver, it’s a nice belt with a little extra. That’s why it’s become a critical part of my closet.