This is the third post in our series: Discover Korea’s Tech, where we will talk to a mix of Korean startup entrepreneurs who stood their own ground with their technology, in Korea’s economy notoriously dominated by gigantic companies. Stay tuned over the coming month as we talk to Korean entrepreneurs. You can follow our updates @technodechina for new stories in the series.
After all the fuss about wearables, smart watches and IoT wearables saw a slump this year. Here we reached a conclusion, that maybe we don’t really die for wearables. Well, what about a smart belt? WELT, or a Wellness Belt that tracks your eating habits is getting attention from fashion brands to make their fashion belts smarter.
China has the biggest population of obese people. Aiming to target obese people, the company will release its product to Chinese retailers.
“We have wearables like Fitbit, Misfit, and Miband in the market. Wearing wearables is not so comfortable actually,” Dr. Sean G. Kang, CEO of WELT says. “Businessmen wear belts all the time. So I thought of the belt. I formed a team and started working on developing smart belt.”
WELT is hidden behind the buckle and contains two sensors: One sensor measures the waistline size, and a sensor that counts how many steps you’ve taken, how long the user has been sitting. It then sends the data to a pairing app for analysis.
“It can also monitor if you have overeaten. When you eat too much, your belly expands about 5 centimeters, and you have to pull the belt one hole loose. The WELT tracks the changes in belt tension,” Dr. Kang says.
Other possible features include recording the time when you commuted and came back home, the frequency of going to the toilet and the time you spent in the toilet and calling the emergency when the user falls down.
The battery for WELT lasts as long as one month, and can be charged via a micro USB port on its side. The company is developing an app that scores the user about their healthy habits on a daily and monthly basis.
The wellness belt went on a Kickstarter campaign on this August and raised $72,964 USD in total, doubling its goal amount of $30,000 USD.
CEO of WELT, Dr. Kang was formerly a medical doctor in Severance hospital in Seoul. When Working at Samsung Electronics Mobile Communication Health development group, he developed a sensor that tracks heartbeat. After coming up with the idea of smart belt, he formed a team within Samsung’s Creative Lab, an in-house incubator in Samsung that lets its employees to come up with ideas and turn them into startups.
“Samsung Creative Lab started about two years ago. There are about ten new teams coming out a year,” Dr. Kang says.
WELT, the eleventh team in the Samsung Creative Lab, was seed funded by Samsung Ventures. The team won the Samsung’s internal competition and spun off. According to Dr. Kang, there are 20 teams that came out of Samsung to start their own company.
“Hardware can be copied, perhaps, if a company do reverse-engineering. However, they cannot copy our sensing algorithm, health data, and partnerships with fashion brands and hospitals,” he says.
The company is about to launch its Indiegogo campaign in November. It has also partnered with fashion companies and hospitals and aims to launch its consumer product in December. WELT is supported by K-ICT Born2Global Center, a major Korean government agency under the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP).
Image Credit: WELT