Why you should care

Don’t we all sometimes need a little nudge to put down the fork?

Ever feel like you’ve overdone it at the buffet table … to the point you find yourself trying to discreetly unbutton your pants?

One company has a solution that works with your pants. Meet Belty, a belt whose buckle loosens and tightens according to its wearer’s movements. Through an embedded accelerometer, the belt can detect tension — i.e., that big meal you just ate — and it adjusts accordingly. It has an accompanying smartphone app, which lets you track your steps, create exercise goals and set preferences for the belt’s fit. Time to move off the couch? The belt buckle will give you a daily nudge to go do some jumping jacks.

The idea: As you notice the belt tighten and loosen, you’ll become more aware of your eating habits.

But “it’s not a belt for lazy people,” insists Carine Coulm, CEO and co-founder of Belty’s Paris-based manufacturer, Emiota. The idea, she says, is that as you notice the belt tighten and loosen, you’ll become more aware of your eating habits and be encouraged to improve them. Emiota co-founder Bertrand Duplat is diabetic; the disease spurred the pair to create Belty. Right now the buckle is aimed at men, who Coulm believes may need an extra push to start monitoring their girth. Unlike women, men “see themselves as thinner than they really are,” she says. But since many women have inquired about the product, Emiota also plans to develop a female-focused version.

a photo of the belty

Would you try the Belty?

Source Maurizio Pesce/CC

Can a belt help you lose weight? Christopher Ochner, a weight-loss researcher at Mount Sinai Hospital and spokesman for the Obesity Society, says Belty’s waistline-monitoring feature could be beneficial, but after a while, people might ignore it — just like those constant pings on a smartphone. Also, he says, people tend not to stick with devices like pedometers and Fitbits: “After a week or two, it winds up in a drawer.”

Although it isn’t yet available for purchase (the company plans to start taking preorders at the end of the year) and a price hasn’t been set, Belty is already creating buzz among the tech crowd. It was a big hit at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, winning an award for innovation. In the growing field of wearable tech, Belty stands out, says Ramon Llamas, research manager for wearable technology at IDC. It doesn’t just collect data; it actually responds to that information.

But the big question remains: Will this thing be fashionable? So far, wearable tech has been a big miss in the style department, and the early prototype for Belty looks pretty clunky. Coulm promises that the final product will be more flattering and come in a range of colors and styles. Even so, it could well be a niche product, rather than a mass-market device. “It’s easier to wear a bracelet or a watch,” Llamas points out. That said, there surely must be some takers out there, given the enduring demand for weight-loss products. Indeed, Coulm is pitching Belty as a friendly motivational tool. “It’s like a buddy who takes care of you,” she says.

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