Samsung smart belt spinoff Welt quickly funded on Kickstarter

By Jonah Comstock

At CES in January, Samsung showed off a concept for a smart belt called Welt (a portmanteau of wellness and belt). At the beginning of the summer, the company announced that the Welt team had spun off into its own startup. Now Welt has brought its device to crowdfunding website Kickstarter, where it proved an overnight success, raising $64,485 over the long weekend. 

Welt comes from Samsung Electronics’ C-Lab in South Korea, an internal incubation program that first started in 2012 to help inspire a more creative company culture. If an employee's idea is chosen for C-Lab, they can take up to one year away from their primary job to develop it. Welt's team and four other C-Lab concepts were the first projects to spin out of the program as startups. 

The device concept hasn't changed much since we wrote about it in June: it's still designed to look as much as possible like a regular belt.

The wearable's electronics are housed in a small metal box right near the Welt's buckle -- there are no additional sensors on the leather belt itself. The belt has a small micro USB port for a charger, and the founders say one charge can keep the belt tracking the wearer for up to seven days. The device primarily tracks four things: your waist circumference, how many times you eat, how long you sit, and your step count. The smartphone companion app also includes a realtime graph that tracks the tension of the wearer's belt.

The device's appeal may have to do with the fact that it's tackling something that's often been tried and never quite been figured out in the world of wearables: tracking food intake as well as calorie burn. It also addresses weight managament more directly than wristworn wearables, which are focused on promoting activity.

"Abdominal fat is a product of excess calorie intake," the company writes on its Kickstarter page. "Based on calorie intake, your waist can expand and contract over a duration as short as half an hour. WELT keeps track of these rapid variations in waist size to monitor patterns of overeating."

The biggest change from the device's announcement to its current iteration is that a much larger number of colors and styles are available now. Early bird pre-orderers were able to get the belt for as little as $69, but anyone joining the campaign now will be looking at more like $99.