US: Blu, the maker of electronic cigarettes that release a nicotine-laden vapour instead of smoke, has developed packs of e-cigarettes with sensors that will let users know when other e-smokers are nearby. The packs vibrate when a smoker nears a retail outlet that sells Blu cigarettes. One can consider it as the introduction of location-based service exclusively for smokers, as Jason Healy, the founder of Blu, said that later versions will be tethered to a smartphone through an app, allowing more options for real-time communication.
The company is also considering to develop a system through which the packs will monitor how much people are smoking and report back to them — or to their doctors.
The new “smart packs,” which will go on sale next month for USD 80 for five e-cigarettes, are equipped with devices that emit and search for the radio signals of other packs. When they get within 50 feet of one another, the packs vibrate and flash a blue light.
The reusable packs, which serve as a charger for the cigarettes, can be set to exchange information about their owners, like contact information on social networking sites, that can be downloaded onto personal computers.
E-cigarettes have several obvious advantages to their traditional counterparts. They allow users to avoid bans on smoking in public places because they release only water vapour. Healy and other e-cigarette manufacturers also claim that they have practically no negative health effects — an assertion that draws scepticism in many quarters. But the devices are also, in their own way, gadgets.
Marketers think people want more devices to link to each other. More than 105 million adult Americans have at least two types of connected devices, and 37 million have five or more, according to Forrester Research.