A good belt should hold your pants up and be fashionable doing so.
Piers Ridyard has raised the expectations of this simple but important mens fashion accessory: the belt as smart phone charger.
Ridyard’s XOO belt looked like any other belt when it made its debut at London Fashion Week in January as part of a new collection from men’s fashion house Casely-Hayford. The charging power is in layers of thin, flexible lithium ceramic polymer battery sewn into the leather.
A microUSB-to-USB charging cable stored on the inside of the band can be plugged into the belt to charge a pocketed iPhone or Android device. The belt can be recharged on a computer.
“We are trying to be on the cutting edge of technology and fashion, and both are fast moving industries,” Ridyard, the CEO of Nifty, a British tech firm that makes mini drives for MacBooks. “The functionality or the fashion of the belt could not be sacrificed.”
A successful Indiegogo campaign sold $80,000 in belts with another $15,000 coming after the campaign. The Classic XOO (pronounced zoo) sells for $130 and comes with a polished zinc buckle with a black or brown leather band. A Casley-Hayford model, made with drum-dyed vegetable-tanned Italian leather and choice of two buckles goes for $160.
The XOO Belt website is taking pre-orders with a July delivery schedule.
Ridyard said the most challenging part is educating shoppers on the safety of the belt. Lithium batteries can overheat with a risk of fire and explosion, but the lithium ceramic polymer battery do not pose the same risks. Ridyard, in the instruction video below, goes to great pains to show how rugged the new battery technology is.
“It’s not volatile, you can pierce it, bend it, you can light the dam thing on fire and it won’t catch,” Ridyard said. “There’s not need to worry.”
Ridyard says the belt contains plenty of battery for other computing tasks, but his company is proceeding slowly with what next to do with wearable technology.
He said technology moves quickly, but people transition more slowing in the ways they compute. If people are going to be wearing pricey technology, it has to be a piece they are going to wear every day.
“People change their clothes every day so that only leaves a few pieces that are day-in and day-out: something on the wrist, a necklace, some people wear the same shoes everyday and the waste band.”