Lighting up at the Betabeat offices is a very social activity, with groups of nicotine addicts coming and going to the elevator as regular as the tides.
But for those trying out new electronic cigarettes, which replace smoke with a burst of nicotine laden water vapor, finding a clique of fellow travelers might be a little more difficult.
So Blu, maker of e-cigarettes, has developed a social sensor for their customers. The new smart packs, reports the NY Times, use a radio sensor to detect other cyber-smokers and vibrate and flash when one is within 50 feet.
Once users find each other, the packs can even exchange personal information, data that can be uploaded to a computer later on.
Future plans at Blu include a smartphone app that syncs with the packs so users can chat or geo-locate on another. Packs could be set to monitor smoking habits or report back to a doctor.
E-cigarettes are banking on the wave of cities, like New York, banning smoking in bars and public parks. But even with addition of social tools, Blu cigarettes remain an oddity. From the NYT:
“You’ll meet more people than ever, just because of the wow factor,” said Jason Healy, the founder of Blu, who did not appear to be making friends as he exhaled the odorless vapor of an e-cigarette at a coffee shop in Midtown Manhattan recently.